Open Source In Outer Space

How The Galaxy's Biggest Hackathon Is Improving Life On Earth And In Space

In 2012, the world's leading space agency began a program that opened a gateway to outer space for everyone - the NASA International Space Apps Challenge. Since then, tens of thousands of people have joined a global community that solves problems to improve life on Earth and in space. You too can become a space hacker!

Outer space was once the sole province of nation-states and their military-industrial complexes, even serving as a theater for the Cold War between superpowers. In recent times, thanks to scientific advancements, reduced manufacturing costs, and increased sophistication in technology and materials, space science has become more commercially and publicly accessible now than in any other time in history - and many private individuals are taking the exploration of space into their own hands, often in direct partnership with formerly unapproachable government agencies.

A new wave of administrators and executives at NASA have made great strides in open sourcing software and hardware technologies used in their space program, as well as the data and imagery produced by their missions, releasing everything they produce into the worldwide public domain. One of the most successful efforts on their part has been the annually occurring, grassroots, volunteer-run, local community organized space hacker event known as the International Space Apps Challenge.

In just three short years, this global citizen effort has created hundreds of open source projects to overcome challenges and improve life on Earth and in space - and NASA continuously collaborates with the grassroots space hacker community in order to further spur open innovation.

New York City has been the "global mainstage" for the International Space Apps Challenge for two years running, hosted by its local chapter of space hackers: Space Apps NYC. At 1100 members and growing, Space Apps NYC is one of the world's premiere space hacker communities. Over 100 open source projects have been created by its members, and in 2015 their locally organized event included NASA's first ever "Women in Data" bootcamp and a conference program of renowned speakers that were livestreamed worldwide.

This talk will cover some of the highlights and history of "the galaxy's biggest hackathon", describe and demonstrate some of the best projects created, and discuss the amazing open source NASA resources that are made freely available for anyone in the world to use for any purpose.

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