Aerospace Toolbox

Analyze and visualize aerospace vehicle motion using reference standards and models

Aerospace Toolbox provides tools and functions for analyzing the navigation and environment of aerospace vehicles and visualizing their flight using standard cockpit instruments or a flight simulator. It lets you import Data Compendium (Datcom) files directly into MATLAB® to represent vehicle aerodynamics and incorporate validated environment models for atmosphere, gravity, wind, geoid height, and magnetic field. You can evaluate vehicle motion and orientation using built-in aerospace math operations and coordinate system and spatial transformations. You can visualize the vehicle in flight directly from MATLAB with standard cockpit instruments and using the pre-built FlightGear Flight Simulator interface.

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Vehicle Motion Analysis

Analyze vehicle flight dynamics and motion in MATLAB using aerospace coordinate system transformations, flight parameters, and quaternion math.

Coordinate System Transformations

Use the coordinate system functions to standardize units across data describing flight dynamics and motion, transform spatial representations and coordinate systems, and describe the behavior of three- and six-degrees-of-motion bodies.

Example overlaying simulated and actual flight data.    

Flight Parameters

Use functions to estimate aerodynamic flight parameters, such as airspeed, incidence and sideslip angles, Mach number, and relative pressure, density, and temperature ratios.

Example of performing glide calculations.    

Quaternion Math

Use built-in quaternion functions to calculate their norm, modulus, natural logarithm, product, division, inverse, power, or exponential. Or you can interpolate between two quaternions using the linear, spherical-linear, or normalized-linear methods.

Creating the world’s first two-way laser optical link at Astrium. 

Environment Models

Use validated environment models to represent standard gravity and magnetic field profiles, to obtain atmospheric variables for a given altitude, and to implement the horizontal wind model of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.


Use validated environment models, including the COSPAR International Reference Atmosphere 1986, 1976 COESA, International Standard Atmosphere (ISA), Lapse Rate Atmosphere, and 2001 U.S. Naval Research Lab Exosphere, to represent the Earth’s atmosphere.

Supersonic wind tunnel example using the ISA model.

Gravity and Magnetic Field

Calculate gravity and magnetic field using standard models, such as the 1984 World Geodetic System, 1996 Earth Geopotential Model (EGM96), or World Magnetic Models (WMM), and download ephemeris data to calculate geoid height and undulations.

Example of geoid height for Earth geopotential model. 


Use the horizontal wind function to implement the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Horizontal Wind Model routine and calculate the meridional and zonal components of the wind for one or more sets of geophysical data.

Example of using the function atmoshwm.

Flight Visualization

Visualize the motion of aerospace vehicles using standard cockpit flight instruments and the FlightGear flight simulator.

Flight Instruments

Use standard cockpit flight instruments in MATLAB to display navigation variables. Instruments include airspeed, climb rate, and exhaust gas temperature indicators, altimeter, artificial horizon, turn coordinator, and more.

Reviewing prerecorded flight test data or simulation data.

Flight Simulator Interface

The animation object for FlightGear lets you visualize flight data and vehicle motion in a three-dimensional environment.

Example playing back flight data in FlightGear.

Planetary Ephemerides

Use solar system ephemeris data to calculate position and velocity of planets for a given Julian date, and to describe Earth nutation and Moon libration motions.

Celestial Phenomena Functions

With Chebyshev coefficients obtained from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, you can use MATLAB to compute the position and velocity of solar system bodies relative to a specified center object for a given Julian date, as well as Earth nutation and Moon libration.

Image from Marine Navigation Using Planetary Ephemerides example, which outlines the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. 

Import Datcom Files

Use coefficients obtained from the Digital Data Compendium (Datcom) based on vehicle flight conditions and geometry to estimate its aerodynamic stability and control characteristics.

Digital Datcom Data

Import aerodynamic coefficients from static and dynamic analyses and transfer them into MATLAB as a cell array of structures containing information about a Datcom output file.

Importing Datcom files.

Latest Features

wrldmagm Function

Implement the World Magnetic Model, including WMM-2015v2

FlightGear Interface

Includes support for version 2018.3 through flight simulator objects

See the release notes for details on any of these features and corresponding functions.


For NASA, developing satellite trajectory optimization and control algorithms with MATLAB and related toolboxes is about twice as fast as developing them with languages that require everything to be coded from scratch.

Have Questions?

Contact Greg Drayer Andrade, Aerospace Blockset Technical Expert

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