Re: Satellite Tool Kit now freeware

John Pike (
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 18:21:39 -0400

At 12:37 PM 7/21/97 -0700, Allen Thomson wrote:

> Analytical Graphics has decided to begin giving away its flagship product,
> the Satellite Tool Kit software. The software has thousands of features

Yeah, yeah yeah ......

Now for the bad news .....

1 - The download expands into a total of some 28 MB of files etc etc

2 - Even though they are giving away the software, they are a bit more
stingy with the passwords needed to actually run the software once you
have it, and given their previously small installed customer base, the
process for getting the dang passwords and setting up the app so you
can run it a second time are less than transparent..... not entirely opaque,
but there is a bit of noodling required to get the thing fired up and such ...
[hint: register by email, since the WWW registration doesn't seem to
actually work or even function].

3 - Though I have not inspected the specs, I am guessing that this thing
was designed to run on a 500MHz Alpha with 128 MB RAM, since
within a few minutes I was easily able to set the thing working on a problem
that clobbered my feeble 100MHz Pentium w/ 32MB RAM.

4 - The thing is so powerfully featured that it is kinda obscure as to just
what it is supposed to *do*, but the gist of it seems to be that one can
design space/ground architectures [aka "scenarios"], and then set the 
critters running to see just what they want to do. It seems that one
could spend a powerful amount of time just building a baseline
"scenario" [that it, entering all the data for the existing satellite
tracking network, LPARs, etc]. That is to say, if someone has
already built this "scenario" I would sure like to borrow a copy,
and if this is not commonly available, I guess I will build my own
copy and put it on our WWW for download etc

5 - I am guessing that they are giving away the software so they
can rake in the bucks with courseware teaching folks how to use
the dang thing, since the claim that the "software has thousands of 
features" is no joke .... this is one industrial piece of software that
looks like it would take some serious training/practice to really
make it do interesting things.... even though in the absence of such
training it does look like one could waste considerable hours playing
it as a really fancy version of Space Invaders or somethin ....

6 - This most surely ain't what one needs to go out into the ole
back yard to take a peak at Mir, since it is mainly oriented towards
contemplating space systems that one might like to build, rather than
actually looking at systems that have been built [tho see #4].

BUT, there is no way around it ... STK is most assuredly the absolute
state of the art in the field, and I have been drooling over the thing
for years now, though never quite able to pop for the kilobuck plus
pricetag, so all these gripes aside, I got my copy and will be
struggling to extract some functionality from it over the next few
weeks or so, so wish us luck ....


John Pike
Federation of American Scientists
307 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
V 202-675-1023,   F 202-675-1024,