SpaceBolt: Software for analysis of bolted joints


SpaceBolt is a software tool that has been developed for the space industry to enable companies to analyse the stresses that bolted joints are put under using an FEM interface. It can then search a database of space-qualified components to suggest those that are most appropriate. This software could be implemented in other industries that have strict conditions for performance and verification whilst keeping other parameters, such as weight, to a safe minimum.


A software tool has been developed that allows for systematic analysis of bolted joints that are under various levels of stress.

The software contains a database of all the bolts, nuts, spacers, and inserts that are qualified for use on space missions. The information in the database includes material, friction coefficient, thread & head diameters, length, and maximum load.

Integrated within the tool is the Threaded Fasteners Handbook (ECSS-E-HB-32-23A), which provides, in a single document, structural design engineers with all of the relevant information on the use of threaded fasteners in jointed spacecraft components. Included within the handbook is the ‘margin of safety’ for each mode of failure that needs to be considered. This information needs to be shown in all verification documentation for space missions so it is critical that engineers pick the correct product.

The premium functionality of the software is that it includes a Finite Element Method (FEM) interface that enables the analysis of any number of bolted joints within a mission/project. The results of the FEM analysis ensure that the correct bolt is chosen for the application meaning that mission critical safety is maintained without needlessly over-engineering and increasing the overall weight of the spacecraft.

This software or its framework could be adapted for other applications outside of space that require a similar level of regulation and verification.

Innovations and advantages of the offer

  • Enables engineers to pick the correct bolt, nut, or insert depending on the specific tolerances required
  • Combines both technical demands and safety regulations into one piece of software
  • Easy to use graphical user interface (GUI)
  • Comprehensive database of bolts, nuts, spacers, and inserts
  • Has an integrated FEM analysis tool that can automatically analyse a large number of connections


The software has been developed for the space industry and all of the current information within the database relates to space qualified components.

The software architecture could remain virtually the same but, with the integration of industry-relevant information, could be applied in:

  • Motorsport/automotive
  • Marine
  • Aerospace
  • Oil & Gas

The software is ideally suited to industries with technically demanding applications that are also highly regulated and where verification documentation is required.

Description of Space Heritage

The software was developed for the European space industry in order to comply with the verification conditions and regulations set out by ESA in their standards documentation for threaded fasteners (ESA-PSS-03-208 and subsequent updates).

Comments on the technology by the broker

This is a software technology that has quite a good potential for transfer. It has been specifically developed so that companies can comply with the strict conditions set out by ESA. It is able to ensure mission critical safety whilst also minimising the weight and size required from fasteners.

Computer Hardware & Software
Reference No.
Could this technology benefit your business? Please contact Matthew Edwards STFC Innovations (UK)
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