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James R. WertzJames Wertz


IS&T Approaches to Reducing the Cost of Satellite Constellations
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Building 3 Auditorium - 3:30 PM

(Refreshments at 3:00 PM)


Goddard's Office of the Assistant Director for Information Sciences and Chief Information Officer announces the next GSFC Information Sciences and Technology (IS&T) Colloquium presentation of the Spring 2001 Series. Dr. James R. Wertz, Microcosm(link is external) President, will speak on the topic, IS&T Approaches to Reducing the Cost of Satellite Constellations. A critical element of many proposed and on-orbit constellations is that they simply cost too much. Historically, this high cost has included the spacecraft, launch, and mission operations. This talk will concentrate the mission and systems operations, and particularly on the use of autonomy both on the spacecraft and on the ground to reduce cost. Substantial levels of autonomy are found in both the lowest and highest cost space systems. Consequently, the need to drive down cost focuses not simply on being autonomous, but on low-cost autonomy. This, in turn, leads to issues of non-recurring development cost, testability, and ease of operations. IS&T is not the only element needed to drive down the cost of constellations, but it is a critical component of doing so.

Jim Wertz(link is external) is the President of Microcosm(link is external), Inc., a space mission engineering firm in El Segundo, CA. His principal areas of technical expertise are space mission engineering, attitude and orbit determination and control, autonomous spacecraft, and techniques for space mission cost reduction. He is an editor and principal author of:

  • Spacecraft Attitude Determination and Control, SADC (D. Reidel, 1978, 858 pg), originally developed for GSFC and now in its 13th printing
  • Space Mission Analysis and Design, SMAD, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions (3rd ed.: Kluwer Academic, 1999, 969 pg.), the most widely used text and reference in astronautics
  • Reducing Space Mission Cost, RSMC (Kluwer Academic and Microcosm Press, 1996, 617 pg.)
  • Spacecraft Orbit and Attitude Systems, SOAS, Vol. 1: Mission Geometry; Orbit and Constellation Design and Management (Kluwer Academic, in press, 1000 pg.)

He is the Managing Editor of the Space Technology Library and the Journal of Reducing Space Mission Cost. Under his direction, Microcosm is developing an ultra-low-cost expendable launch vehicle and has flown the first fully autonomous orbit control system on UoSAT-12. He teaches Design of Low Cost Space Missions at the University of Southern California and several professional short courses, including SMAD and RSMC. In November, 2000, he introduced a new course, Constellation Design, Management, and Economics, here at GSFC, based on the forthcoming SOAS volume.

IS&T Colloquium Committee Host: Cynthia Cheung