Microcosm/USC Reinventing Space Project


The Reinventing Space Project is a joint effort between Microcosm and University of Southern California (USC) aimed at near-term research, training, and workshops in methods to dramatically reduce space mission cost and schedule. It is headed by Dr. James Wertz, President of Microcosm and Adjunct Professor of Astronautics at USC, and Dr. Mike Gruntman, USC Professor of Astronautics. Near-term activities, courses, reports and several relevant professional papers are shown below. For a press release on the formation and purpose of the Reinventing Space Project, click here.

The purpose of this website is to make information available on "Reinventing Space—Dramatically Reducing Space Mission Cost." Most of the material here is drawn from background material prepared for the Spring, 2013 USC graduate course on the "Design of Low Cost Space Missions" and from related material that Microcosm has created over the last decade. We welcome comments, suggestions, and additional material which you believe is relevant to the broad topic of reinvigorating the space program at dramatically lower cost. Please send your comments and questions to Nicola Sarzi-Amade at namade@smad.com.

If we can help your organization create a proactive program to reduce mission cost, please get in touch with us. We look forward to supporting cost and schedule reduction efforts throughout the community.

Thank you for your interest in the Reinventing Space Project.

Jim Wertz, jwertz@smad.com

Mike Gruntman, mikeg@usc.edu


As with any inherently challenging technical problem, dramatically reducing cost and schedule requires hard work and good engineering, not simply a set of rules or procedures to follow. To disseminate information the existing knowledge base on this topic, on what has historically worked (and not worked) and why, and various approaches that have been proposed for future programs, the Reinventing Space Project is offering a series of seminars, professional short courses, and a for-credit graduate course, each of which is described in the flyers below. For information on holding these at your facility, or joining the USC graduate course via the Distance Education Network, contact Julie Jackson at jjackson@smad.com or 310-219-2700.




Professional Publications

These are copies of the most relevant current professional papers or, in cases where copyright material must be paid for (typically papers sold by one of the professional societies or books), a source where it can be purchased.

For a much longer list of papers on this topic see both the bibliography listed above and the Reinventing Space Conference website, www.reinventingspace.org

"Reinventing Space" Space News articles and related information.

This is a series of Op-Ed articles in Space News on how to go about the process of dramatically reducing space mission cost in a much shorter schedule, while maintaining a high level of mission utility. The complete set of articles, along with references and a bibliography are available here:

Reducing Space Mission Cost Op-Ed Complete Article Series

Reference Material

Basic reference material relevant to this topic.


Microcosm, Inc.

In addition to research and support on methods for implementing much lower cost, high utility space missions, Microcosm is engaged in the development of a number of key low-cost technologies. If you would like more specific information about Microcosm’s low cost spacecraft, launch vehicles, or supporting technologies click here, or contact us at microcosm@smad.com.

University of Southern California.

The University of Southern California has one of the largest astronautics Master’s programs in the US (including enrollment via the Distance Education Network) and also engages in relevant astronautics research. For information on graduate astronautics courses (including “Space Mission Analysis and Design” and "Reinventing Space—the Design of Low-Cost Space Missions") click here. For information specifically on the MS program, click here.

The Southern California SmallSat Coalition.

The Southern California SmallSat Coalition (SCSC) is an initiative sponsored by the University of Southern California in collaboration with Microcosm, that has the purpose to bring together the diverse members of the SmallSat community in the Southern California area with the goal of getting to know each other and working together to accomplish what we cannot do individually, both technically and politically. Large programs have a natural political constituency that small programs do not have. But small programs have the potential to truly change how we do business in space to meet the needs of the end user community far more rapidly, at lower cost, and lower risk. 



Dr. Mike Gruntman

Dr. Mike Gruntman
(213) 740-5536

Mike Gruntman is a professor of Astronautics at the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. He is currently the Director of the Master’s Program, which is among the largest in the United States in astronautics, and the founding Chairman (2004–2007) of the Astronautical Engineering Department at USC. Dr. Gruntman is a space physicist, engineer, and educator. His research interests include astronautics, space physics, space instrumentation and space sensors, spacecraft and space mission design, propulsion, spacecraft technologies, astronautical education, and history of rocketry and space technology. He has over 250 publications, including over 80 articles and 3 books. You can visit his personal page at Astronauticsnow.com.

Dr. James Wertz

Dr. James Wertz
(310) 219-2700

Jim Wertz is the President of Microcosm and an Adjunct Professor of Astronautics at USC. He holds an SB in Physics from MIT, an MS in Management of Science and Technology from GWU, and a PhD in Relativity and Cosmology from the U of Texas at Austin. He is one of the originators of the push for Reinventing Space and has been the general chairman of the Reinventing Space Conference for 10 years. Dr. Wertz holds multiple patents in spacecraft technology. He is the editor and a principal author of 5 widely used books in space technology with over 80,000 copies in print:

He is a Fellow of the AIAA and the British Interplanetary Society, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He teaches courses worldwide in both "Space Mission Analysis and Design," and "Reducing Space Mission Cost."


Anthony Shao

Anthony Shao
(310) 219-2700

Anthony Shao is currently a PhD student at the University of Southern California (USC), working with his technical advisor, Dr. James R. Wertz, on the Reinventing Space Project since May 2013. His research focuses on Performance-Based Cost Modeling and how it can be used to quantify the cost reduction potential of small observation satellites. He has also been working as a systems engineer at Microcosm for over 2 years. His experience at Microcosm includes space mission engineering analysis and design, orbit and constellation design, communications and performance analyses, system trade studies, engineering modeling, and several professional publications. Anthony received his Master's degree in Astronautical Engineering in 2011 from USC, where he also worked on a currently-flying student designed CubeSat, called AENEAS, at USC’s Space Engineering Research Center at the Information Sciences Institute. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics in 2009 from Adelphi University. He initially received a grant from the California Space Grant Consortium to work on his research for the Reinventing Space Project. He hopes that his research will support a positive impact in the aerospace community, and ultimately, revolutionize the way business is done in space.

Elizabeth Koltz

Elizabeth Koltz
(310) 813-3530

Liz Koltz is currently a student at the University of Southern California in the Astronautical Engineering department. She has been working with Dr. James R. Wertz on the Reinventing Space Project since July 2013, primarily on Performance Based Cost Modeling (PBCM) for observation and communication satellites and the implications for risk, reliability and the schedule for space missions. Liz has been a Systems Engineer in Launch & Operations at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach since 2007. She completed her M.S. in Astronautical Engineering at USC in 2013, and her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2010. By participating in the Reinventing Space Project, she hopes to provide irrefutable support of unconventional mission architectures that will guide future development of space missions.