Fokker Space






The subject of this case study was an effort undertaken within Fokker Space to lower the volume and mass of solar panel array designs. This culminated in the Curwin solar panel array concept which used a curved arrangement of solar panels (like a tape measure) instead of a separate backbone structure to reduce both volume and mass while retaining the required stiffness and high frequency response.


The goals for the simulation of the deployment were:

  • Determine the important factors in a successful deployment
  • Evaluate the initial design of the solar panel array
  • Validate design changes to meet the requirements of a successful deployment
  • Final validation of a design that resulted in a controlled and reliable deployment

MSC Software’s Adams was chosen to analyze the multibody dynamic process during the deployment. In the past, Adams has been successfully used within the spacecraft industry to model solar panel deployment.

  • Lower volume and mass of solar panel array design
  • Reduce costs from $10,000 per pound for a single satellite launched via heavy rockets to below $3,000 with new approach
  • Realistic simulation to replicate on-orbit conditions during deployment

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