Example of MSC.Nastran analysis result

NASTRAN is a finite element analysis (FEA) program that was originally developed for NASA in the late 1960s under United States government funding for the Aerospace industry.[1] The MacNeal-Schwendler Corporation (MSC) was one of the principal and original developers of the public domain NASTRAN code. NASTRAN source code is integrated in a number of different software packages, which are distributed by a range of companies.



The 1964 annual review of NASA's structural dynamics research program revealed that the research centers were separately developing structural analysis software that was specific to their own needs. The review recommended that a single generic software program should be used instead.[2] In response, an ad hoc committee was formed. The committee determined that no existing software could meet their requirements. They suggested establishing a cooperative project to develop this software and created a specification that outlined the capabilities for the software.[3]

A contract was awarded to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) to develop the software. The first name used for the program during its development in the 1960s was GPSA an acronym for General Purpose Structural Analysis. The eventual formal name approved by NASA for the program, NASTRAN, is an acronym formed from NASA Structural Analysis. The NASTRAN system was released to NASA in 1968. In the late 1960s, the MacNeal-Schwendler Corporation (MSC) started to market and support its own version of NASTRAN, called MSC/NASTRAN (which eventually became MSC.Nastran). The original software architecture was developed by Joe Mule (NASA), Gerald Sandler (NASA), and Stephen J. Burns (University of Rochester).

NASTRAN software application was written to help design more efficient space vehicles such as the Space Shuttle. NASTRAN was released to the public in 1971 by NASA’s Office of Technology Utilization. The commercial use of NASTRAN has helped to analyze the behavior of elastic structures of any size, shape, or purpose. For example, the automotive industry uses the program to design front suspension systems and steering linkages. It is also used in designing railroad tracks and cars, bridges, power plants, skyscrapers, and aircraft. The program alone was estimated to have returned $701 million in cost savings from 1971 to 1984. NASTRAN was inducted into the U.S. Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1988, one of the first technologies to receive this prestigious honor.[4]

The NASTRAN program has evolved over many versions. Each new version contains enhancements in analysis capability and numerical performance. In addition, many errors from previous versions are corrected. In one notorious case, an internal error in NASTRAN was identified as responsible for the 1991 collapse of the Sleipner A offshore platform. Today, NASTRAN is widely used throughout the world in the aerospace, automotive and maritime industries. It has been claimed [5] that NASTRAN is the industry standard for basic types of analysis for aerospace structures, e.g. linear elastic static and dynamic analyses.

In November 2002 MSC Software reached a final agreement with the FTC to resolve an antitrust case against the company in connection with two acquisitions of rival CAE vendors, Universal Analytics, Inc. (UAI) and Computerized Structural Analysis & Research Corp. (CSAR). The FTC had alleged the acquisitions represented anticompetitive activities. Under the terms of the settlement, MSC divested a clone copy of its current Nastran software. The divestiture was through royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive licenses to UGS Corporation. UGS Corporation was acquired by Siemens in 2007.[6]

Commercial versions of NASTRAN are currently available from MSC Software, NEi Software (NEi Nastran) and Siemens PLM Software (NX Nastran).[7] Siemens AG purchased the former UGS Corporation from private equity concerns and their rights to the commercial version of NX NASTRAN in 2006.

Software architecture

NASTRAN is written primarily in FORTRAN and contains over one million lines of code. NASTRAN is compatible with a large variety of computers and operating systems ranging from small workstations to the largest supercomputers.

NASTRAN was designed from the beginning to consist of several modules. A module is a collection of FORTRAN subroutines designed to perform a specific task—processing model geometry, assembling matrices, applying constraints, solving matrix problems, calculating output quantities, conversing with the database, printing the solution, and so on. The modules are controlled by an internal language called the Direct Matrix Abstraction Program (DMAP).

Each type of analysis available is called a solution sequence.

Some of the most common solution sequence codes are:

  • 101 - Linear Static
  • 103 - Modal
  • 105 - Buckling
  • 106 - Non-Linear Static
  • 107 - Direct Complex Eigenvalue
  • 108 - Direct Frequency Response
  • 109 - Direct Transient Response
  • 110 - Modal Complex Eigenvalue
  • 111 - Modal Frequency Response
  • 112 - Modal Transient Response
  • 129 - Nonlinear Transient
  • 144 - Static Aeroelastic Analysis
  • 145 - Flutter / Aeroservoelastic analysis
  • 146 - Dynamic Aeroelastic Analysis
  • 153 - Non-Linear static coupled with heat transfer
  • 159 - Nonlinear Transient coupled with Heat transfer
  • 187 - DDAM
  • 200 - Design Optimization and Sensitivity analysis
  • 400 - Non-Linear Static and Dynamic (implicit) (MSC.NASTRAN native, supersedes 106, 129, 153 and 159 - part of MD.NASTRAN)
  • 600 - Non-Linear Static and Dynamic (implicit) (front end to MSC.Marc - part of MD.NASTRAN)
  • 601 - Implicit Non-Linear (ADINA for NX Nastran)
  • 700 - Explicit Non-Linear (LS Dyna plus MSC.Dytran - part of MD.NASTRAN)
  • 701 - Explicit Non-Linear (ADINA for NX Nastran)

Associated Software

NASTRAN is primarily a solver for finite element analysis.[8] It does not have functionality that allows for graphically building a model or meshing. All input and output to the program is in the form of text files. However, multiple software vendors market pre- and post-processors designed to simplify building a finite element model and analyzing the results. These software tools include functionality to import and simplify CAD geometry, mesh with finite elements, and apply loads and restraints. The tools allow the user to submit an analysis to NASTRAN, and import the results and show them graphically. In addition to pre- and post-processing capabilities, several Nastran vendors have integrated more advanced nonlinear capabilities into their Nastran products.


The following software options, based on NASTRAN original source code are available:

  • MSC.Nastran and MD.Nastran
  • NASTRAN-xMG (acquired by MSC Software)
  • NEi Nastran (A PC/Linux-based version of the original NASTRAN source code)
  • NX NASTRAN (acquired by Siemens PLM)
  • Nastran distributed by the Open Channel Foundation


MSC Nastran is the original commercial Nastran product started by Dr. Richard MacNeal. For many years, MSC maintained a monopoly on the NASTRAN source code, which ended in June 2003 by the purchase by EDS of MSC.Nastran v2001 source code.


Built from the same base code as the original NASTRAN software created by NASA that includes the original NASTRAN architecture and DMAP language, NASTRAN-xMG provides unlimited problem size, high-speed solver technology, and substructuring analysis options. The principal founder of the company is Dr. Richard H. MacNeal.[9]

NEi Nastran

NEi Nastran is a general purpose finite element analysis solver used to analyze linear and nonlinear stress, dynamics, and heat transfer characteristics of structures and mechanical components. It is available on a variety of platforms including 32/64-bit Windows and Linux.[10]

NX Nastran

NX Nastran resulted from an FTC action against MSC Corporation for alleged antitrust activity. The antitrust settlement allowed the 2003 purchase of a royalty-free, perpetual license for the MSC.Nastran 2001 source code by UGS. UGS was previously the Unigraphics division of EDS. Nastran's CAE capabilities were added to NX Unigraphics' CAD and other components to form the EDS/UGS PLM Solutions product life-cycle management suite. This product line was acquired by SIEMENS in 2007 and became SIEMENS PLM Software.

The purchase included a perpetual, worldwide, free of royalties, nonexclusive license of the software program MSC.Nastran v2001, other assets related to the software, and all copyright and trademark rights acquired as a result of MSC's acquisitions of Universal Analytics Inc. and Computerized Structural Analysis & Research Corp. in 1999.[11]

OCF Nastran

Both source and binary copies of Nastran are available from the Open Channel Foundation for an annual license fee. This was part of the NASA COSMIC Collection distribution from the National Technology Transfer Center.


Currently there are numerous commercially available FEA products, some of them being able to read the NASTRAN input format although not bearing the name NASTRAN. Many of them are listed on CAE and FEA pages (see categories below).

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "NASA Press Release 2008"
  3. ^ MacNeal, Richard H., page i., "The NASTRAN Theoretical Manual", December 1972
  4. ^ "NASA Spinoff Magazine 2002"
  5. ^ "NASA Press Release 2008"
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Review of Current Nastran Options
  8. ^ "FTC Press Release: FTC Challenges MSC.Software's Acquisitions of Its Two Nastran Competitors. October 2001
  9. ^ "tMG Nastran-xMG"
  10. ^ "NEi Software NEi Nastran"
  11. ^ "FTC Press Release: MSC.Software Settles FTC Charges by Divesting Nastran Software. August 2002"

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nastran — est un logiciel utilisant la Méthode des éléments finis (FEA) qui a été initialement développé pour la NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), à la fin des années 1960. The MacNeal Schwendler Corporation, actuellement MSC.Software… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • nàstran — prid. 〈odr. ī〉 1. {{001f}}koji ustrajava u lošem i neprirodnom (ob. u seksualnom životu); izopačen 2. {{001f}}koji je čudna ponašanja; ekscentričan …   Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika

  • nastran — nàstran prid. <odr. ī> DEFINICIJA 1. koji ustrajava u lošem i neprirodnom (ob. u seksualnom životu); izopačen 2. koji je čudna ponašanja; ekscentričan ETIMOLOGIJA na + v. strana, stran …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Nastran — Das Programmpaket NASTRAN (Kurzform für Nasa Structural Analysis System) wurde in den 1960er Jahren von der US Raumfahrtbehörde NASA als ein universell einsetzbares Finite Elemente Programm entwickelt. Es ist in FORTRAN geschrieben und zeichnet… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nastran — Este artículo o sección necesita referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como revistas especializadas, monografías, prensa diaria o páginas de Internet fidedignas. Puedes añadirlas así o avisar …   Wikipedia Español

  • nastrán — in na strán prisl. (ȃ) evfem., navadno v zvezi iti nastran iti na malo ali veliko potrebo: šel je nastran ∙ evfem. mudi se mi nastran opraviti moram veliko, malo potrebo; prim. stran …   Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika

  • NASTRAN — noun NASA Structural Analysis System, general purpose Finite Element Analysis (FEA) program …   Wiktionary

  • NASTRAN — NASA Structural Analysis NASA …   Acronyms

  • NASTRAN — NASA Structural Analysis ( > NASA Acronym List ) …   Acronyms von A bis Z

  • NASTRAN — 1. NASA Structural Analysis Contributor: MSFC 2. NASA Structural Analysis (Computer program) Contributor: CASI 3. NASA Structural Analysis Program Contributor: GSFC …   NASA Acronyms

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