The European Space Agency Technical Centre ESA-ESTEC To Select The FEA/MBS Code SAMCEF For Lightweight Space Structures

Liege, Belgium - September 2004. The European Space Research and Technology Centre ESA-ESTEC has purchased a perpetual license of the European Finite Element Analysis software SAMCEF, developed and marketed by the Belgian company SAMTECH s.a.. In parallel to the purchase of the SAMCEF suite, ESA-ESTEC has also issued in 2004 a 24 months market-oriented contract with SAMTECH for new developments in SAMCEF software addressing the design and the advanced analysis aspects of Inflatable Space Structures using Finite Element Method.

The famous European Finite Element Analysis software SAMCEF is currently widely used in the European aerospace Industry to design space mechanical systems (launchers, turbo-pumps, satellites, solar arrays, large telecommunication antennas). In particular, large prime companies of European space Industry like SNECMA and EADS Space Transportation are extensively using SAMCEF since more than 20 years. More recently, ALENIA Spazio, another famous prime company of European space sector, also decided to acquire SAMCEF Mecano, the non-linear FEA/MBS module of SAMCEF, in order to be able to predict the deployment of its Large Deployable Telecommunication Antennas. Since the first application in 1991 of SAMCEF Mecano by ESA-ESTEC that used it in order to predict and solve the difficult problem of dynamic disturbances due to the sun effect on the solar arrays of the Hubble Space Telescope, ESA-ESTEC has progressively increased its interest in SAMCEF software and the expertise developed since 1986 by the Belgian company SAMTECH s.a.. The mutual confidence between SAMTECH and ESA-ESTEC leads today to the purchase a perpetual license of the SAMCEF suite by ESA-ESTEC and to consider specific developments mainly around SAMCEF Mecano to improve the state-of-the-art in the field of non-linear numerical simulation of Inflatable Space Structures using Finite Element Method.

“The decision of ESA-ESTEC is a logical continuation of a long relationship with SAMTECH”, said Michel Klein, Head of Thermal & Structures Division at ESA's Technical Centre ESTEC. “Indeed, for several years, the space community has clearly expressed an interest in lightweight inflatable structures, as a very feasible candidate for deployment and structural support of large appendages such as solar arrays, sun-shields, antenna reflectors, pressurized habitats in space needed for the next generation scientific and commercial spacecraft, as well as for exploration missions. Lightweight Inflatable Space Structures are very attractive and will open a new era in the space exploration because they can meet structural requirements for space applications at a much lower cost than conventional space structures. The significant advantage of Inflatable Technology with respect to conventional mechanical technology is the small volume necessary for the storage of the space structure during its launch and the large size after its deployment in orbit. One can indeed imagine small satellites with large communication antennas, and increased on-board power due to large solar arrays made possible by inflatable structures. In order to further mature the inflatable structures towards a spacecraft application, a number of significant technological problems need to be solved. The final demonstration that such technologies are mastered and ready for a flight programme implementation is especially difficult. Indeed, for most of them, a validation on ground is not sufficient, or simply impossible. For this reason, reliable numerical analysis of Inflatable Space Structures is becoming absolutely necessary and advanced software tools based on the well-known and reliable FEA software such as SAMCEF for supporting this activity have thus a clear interest in European space industry.”

“We are glad to have ESA in the growing circle of important SAMCEF users” concluded Eric Carnoy, Chief Executive Officer of SAMTECH s.a.“. The acquisition of a perpetual license of the SAMCEF suite by ESA-ESTEC and the development contract between SAMTECH and ESA-ESTEC around the subject of Inflatable Space Structures is a clear recognition of SAMTECH as a best of class actor in the field of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) using FEM and illustrates perfectly that SAMCEF fits for critical space engineering activities, in particular for advanced non-linear analysis. SAMTECH also thanks the Belgian Science Policy for supporting the contract between ESA-ESTEC and SAMTECH.”

“In parallel to the project of Inflatable Space Structures announced today, several other projects using SAMCEF are also running or in preparation in the Structures section of ESA-ESTEC”, said Torben Henriksen, Head of Structure Section at ESA’s Technical Centre ESTEC. “Let’s mention for example the simulation of smart structures for payloads and antennas, membrane analysis for propellant tanks, SAMCEF has a very big potential for the numerical analysis of any type of structures and ESA-ESTEC considers its use where relevant in European Space projects in collaboration with SAMTECH”.


ESA-ESTEC is the European Space Research and Technology Centre. The European Space Agency (ESA) and its 15 Member States work together to pursue a wide range of ambitious and exciting goals in space. Together, and in collaboration with other national agencies, Industry, and academic institutions, they create fascinating projects that would not be feasible for the individual Member States. These projects generate new scientific and technology knowledge, new practical applications in space exploration and in on-ground daily life, and contribute to a vigorous European aerospace industry. ESA has sites in several European countries. The European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), the largest site and the technical heart of ESA and the incubator of the European space effort, is in Noordwijk, in the Netherlands. Most ESA projects are born at ESA-ESTEC, and this is where they are guided through the various phases of development. Except for launchers, nearly all ESA projects are managed from ESA-ESTEC. Related projects and activities include science, telecommunications, satellite navigation, Earth observation missions, as well as human spaceflight and launcher aspects. ESA-ESTEC houses about 2000 specialists with highly specialised technical knowledge, either assigned to space projects, or who are assigned to space projects when their expertise is needed for missions.

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SAMTECH s.a. is the European leading provider of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software for Finite Element Analysis (FEA) integrated with Multi-Body Simulation (MBS) and Multi-Disciplinary Optimisation (MDO). Founded in 1986 from the Aerospace Laboratory of University of Li觥, SAMTECH is the main company of the SAMTECH Group, developing and marketing the general-purpose Finite Element Analysis code SAMCEF and the Multi-Disciplinary Optimisation platform BOSS quattro. SAMTECH provides integrated general-purpose software products for linear FEA (SAMCEF Linear), non-linear FEA/MBS problems (SAMCEF Mecano & Thermal). SAMTECH provides industries also with specific Professional Solutions addressing specific applications to be solved in the industrial environment and based on the various disciplines that are useful in this sector. These core products answer to a wide range of industrial needs from the preliminary phases of design to the most advanced verification analyses. The software technology of SAMTECH has an unsurpassed reputation for its quality and reliability. It has been adopted by many major companies across all engineering disciplines as an integral part of their design process.

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For further information about SAMCEF please contact :

Didier Granville, Chief Marketing Officer

Parc Scientifique du Sart Tilman
Rue des Chasseurs-Ardennais 8
4031 Angleur
tel + 32-4-361.69.69
fax + 32-4-361.69.80
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