Odyssey is Schafer’s “Space Flight Mission Operations Simulation and System Performance Analysis Tool”. It can be used for space system operator training, visualization of spacecraft telemetry for mission operations control rooms, or for traditional scientific and engineering analysis. It is based on accurate astrodynamics and presents a high fidelity synthetic visualization of spacecraft flight operations.


Odyssey development commenced in 2005 as a Schafer Corporation Independent Research and Design (IRAD) project. The simulation is efficiently coded, object oriented, and radiometrically accurate. Its architecture is designed for both flexibility and ease of use. The tool can perform very fast Conjunction Analysis on the entire satellite catalog.


Odyssey is perfect for simulating how rockets and satellites fly. It is easy enough for school children to learn the basics of yaw, pitch, and roll while they control space vehicles using the keyboard and joysticks. It is also sophisticated enough for PhD rocket scientists to develop new algorithms, verify the performance of on-orbit flight experiments, plot complex multi-dimensional data, and visualize real time telemetry.


Odyssey models 3D physical objects, including their mass and moment of inertia properties and how they react to control system forces and torques. The objects can fly in orbit around the earth using North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) two-line element sets (TLEs) for a base orbit, and relative orbit equations of motion (EOMs) for showing a chaser’s position relative to a Resident Space Object (RSO) during proximity operations. Many vehicle subsystems are modeled including attitude control, thermal control, power, and communications. During a simulation Odyssey can show live 2D and 3D systems status and data plots.


Odyssey can provide position and orientation information to radiometric modelling tools to obtain accurate estimations of brightness levels and expected imagery from advanced optical tracking systems. It can include accurate terrain data of the earth which is useful for estimating background signatures and for enhancing SSA for microsatellite operators. Odyssey provides accurate star placement, sun location, and earth shadow geometry based on the Julian date of the simulated mission. White dots representing other RSOs move against the background stars based on NORAD’s space catalog.

Top Level List of Features

Odyssey was originally designed to train operators in real time, or provide designers with engineering analysis. Schafer developers intend that future uses of Odyssey include space tactics and Concept of Operations (CONOPS) development in addition to requirements definition and flowdown support for the acquisition of future space systems. The following is a partial list of Odyssey’s main features.

  1. Propagates Orbits with SGP4 Using NORAD 2-Line Element Sets
  2. Propagates Orbits with Kepler’s Equation or Numerical RK4 Integration
    1. Low Thrust Maneuver Algorithms Available for RK4 Integrated EOMs
  3. Propagates Attitude with RK4 Integrated Euler and Quaternion Equations
  4. Models Orbital and Attitude Perturbations
    1. J2, Gravity Gradient, Aero Torque, Photon Pressure, Magnetic
  5. PC Based Graphics View of 3D Spacecraft Models in Orbit with Accurate Lighting
    1. Correct Sun Angles, Model Shadowing, Star Positions
    2. Large Inventory of Space Vehicles Modeled
    3. Cost Effective to Build New Models
  6. Propagates and Displays Entire Space Catalog of RSOs with SGP4
    1. RSO Dots Sized According to Estimated Visual Magnitude
    2. RSOs Can be Colored Orange to Stand Out from Stars
    3. RSOs Penetrating Earth Shadow will Be Colored Gray
  7. Electro-Optics Module
    1. Telescope Optics Design Parameters
    2. Sensor Focal Plane Design Parameters
    3. Statistics of Objects Captured in Sensor FOV – Objects Change Color
  8. Multiple Entities Include Spacecraft, Ground Sites, and Other Platforms
    1. Can Simulate Constellations of Spacecraft
  9. User Controlled 6DOF Synthetic View Cameras Defined for Each Entity
    1. Multiple Reference Frames including ECI, LVLH1, and Body Fixed
    2. Flags Turn On Optics and Focal Plane FOV Reticles for Real Cameras
    3. Can Look Up at Spacecraft from Ground Sites with Coude Path Rotation
    4. Cameras Defined for Each Entity in Input Files
    5. Cameras Can be Controlled by User in Real Time Six DOF
  10. Reaction Control System Thrusters
    1. RCS Select Logic for Attitude Control
    2. Graphics Sizing and Coloring of RCS Plumes for Display wrt Models
  11. Simulates Relative Orbit Proximity Operations
    1. Can Propagate Multiple Chase Vehicles wrt Central RSO
    2. Can be Flown Manually by Pilot or by Automated Scripts
  12. Spacecraft Models Can Have Articulated Components
    1. Payload Bay Doors, Solar Panel Pointing, and Sensors on Gimbals
    2. Robotic Remote Manipulator System (RMS) Operations
    3. ELVs Jettison Stages and Aerofairing Clamshell Halves
  13. Spacecraft Models Have Multiple Pointing Modes
    1. ProxOps Chaser Can Point Sensors at RSO or Solar Panels at Sun
    2. Optics Payload Can Point at Nearest Ground Site
    3. Synthetic Camera Can Point at any Designated RSO or Entity
  14. Can Be Used to Visualize Telemetry
    1. Lagrange Interpolator for Position Telemetry
    2. SLERP Interpolator for Quaternion Attitude Telemetry
    3. Flexible User Controlled Telemetry Input Format Definition
    4. Can Look Through Sensors and See What Spacecraft was Looking At
    5. Can Process Telemetry and Output What Ground Sites Were Near LOS
  15. Imports and Visualizes NASA POST Trajectory Data
    1. POST is Program to Optimize Simulated Trajectories (Industry Standard)
    2. Can Put Colored Variable Display Ribbon Beneath Trajectory for SSA
  16. High Fidelity 6DOF Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) Ascent Module
  17. Advanced Data Generation, Display, and Archiving
    1. Real Time 3D Data Plots
    2. Real Time 2D Data Plots
    3. Export Data in ASCII CSV File Format for Analysis
    4. Flexible Output Format for User Customization
  18. Renders Earth L-Shell Magnetic Field Lines, Creates 2D Plots and Histograms of Magnetic Field Intensity, Outputs CSV Formatted Magnetic Field Data
  19. Search for Event Logic Can Find Exact MET of User Defined Events
    1. Reentry Vehicle Arrives in De-orbit Window
    2. Horizon Break or Set of Object
    3. Entry and Exit of Earth Shadow
    4. Arrival at Apogee or Perigee
    5. Orbit Becomes Circular (Low Thrust Maneuvering)
  20. Ground Site Observation Statistics
  21. Fast Geometric Conjunction Analysis
  22. Turn Graphics Off for Faster Data Processing
  23. Reset Key Starts Simulation Over – Cameras Remain in Current State
  24. Generates Log File for Report Generation or Debugging
  25. Time Throttle – Speed or Slow Down Visualization
  26. Input File Version Number Tracking
    1. Older Files Automatically Updated with Default Parameters
    2. Comments Saved with New Version Number
  27. Extensive User Manual Documentation