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During the concept phase and initial design of a NASA spacecraft, no NASA project says, 'I want an expensive ground system'. In fact, as with other parts of the total project, a zero cost option is the preferred choice. Our experience has shown that putting together a 'low cost' ground system including development systems, control center and ground station, is not as simple as one is first led to believe. This paper addresses several areas of ground system design: onboard spacecraft, ground stations and networks, simulators and laboratories, telemetry and command systems, all of which require careful analysis to accommodate the ground systems cost savings. We have also found that changes to the ground system design are often used to reduce technical risk in other areas of the mission. Many of the ground system impacts from these changes are advertised as 'low cost', but when taken as a whole, the cost impact on the ground system can be large.