MATLAB and Simulink Deployed to International Space Station for NASA SPHERES Project

Three SPHERES floating freely in the International Space Station.
Three SPHERES floating freely in the International Space Station.

Natick, Mass. - (23 Jul 2013)

MathWorks today announced that MATLAB and Simulink have been deployed to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) project.

SPHERES are bowling-ball-sized spherical satellites used inside the space station to test a set of well-defined instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers. The space station crew, on-ground engineers, and guest scientists plan to use SPHERES to study satellite servicing, vehicle assembly, and formation flying spacecraft configurations. By using MATLAB and Simulink, the team can test algorithms related to relative attitude control and station-keeping between satellites, retargeting and image plane filling maneuvers, collision avoidance, and fuel-balancing algorithms.

Additionally, MATLAB will help to render real-time, three-dimensional animation of the satellites during the experiment, allowing on-ground researchers to better visualize the ongoing experiment and view it from any angle. Until now, the only visualization available was a video from a fixed location.

“We are excited that NASA has qualified and deployed MATLAB and Simulink to the space station,” said Jon Friedman, aerospace marketing manager, MathWorks. “This deployment will help the NASA SPHERES team accelerate their work as more complex algorithms and tools can be developed in MATLAB and Simulink and reused directly on the satellites.”

About MathWorks

MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MATLAB, the language of technical computing, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a graphical environment for simulation and Model-Based Design for multidomain dynamic and embedded systems. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on these product families to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, and development in automotive, aerospace, electronics, financial services, biotech-pharmaceutical, and other industries. MathWorks products are also fundamental teaching and research tools in the world's universities and learning institutions. Founded in 1984, MathWorks employs more than 2800 people in 15 countries, with headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, USA. For additional information, visit

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