During the course of transition from the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs to the Orion and Journey to Mars exploration programs, a generic flexible multibody dynamics formulation and associated software implementation has evolved to meet an ever changing set of requirements at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). Challenging problems related to large transitional topologies and robotic free-flyer vehicle capture/release, contact dynamics, and exploration missions concept evaluation through simulation (e.g., asteroid surface operations) have driven this continued development. Coupled with this need is the requirement to oftentimes support human spaceflight operations in real-time. Moreover, it has been desirable to allow even more rapid prototyping of on-orbit manipulator and spacecraft systems, to support less complex infrastructure software for massively integrated simulations, to yield further computational efficiencies, and to take advantage of recent advances and availability of multi-core computing platforms. Since engineering analysis, procedures development, and crew familiarity/training for human spaceflight are fundamental to JSC’s charter, there is also a strong desire to share and reuse models in both the non-real-time and real-time domains, with the goal of retaining as much multibody dynamics fidelity as possible. Three specific enhancements are reviewed here: (1) linked list organization to address large transitional topologies, (2) body level model order reduction, and (3) parallel formulation/implementation. This paper provides a detailed overview of these primary updates to JSC’s flexible multibody dynamics algorithms as well as a comparison of numerical results to previous formulations and associated software.

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