Ariel Waldman, founder of Science Hack Day and, spoke on “Hacking Space Exploration” at the 2011 Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon.


We’re not religious adherents to open-source ideology. We believe that both open-source and closed-source projects have their place. We do believe, however, that the potential of open source has not been sufficiently exploited for space projects.

We’re offering experimenters the chance to fly 100 open-source payloads on XCOR’s Lynx. We hope to fly additional payloads on Lynx and other suborbital vehicles in the future. The reason why we want these payloads to be open source is so other people (both citizen scientists and professional researchers) can duplicate them in the future.

There are limits to how much money a citizen-science organization can raise, but if one of our experiments is successful and catches the attention of a professional research organization, it might be repeated hundreds of times. That would increase the demand for suborbital flights, increasing the flight rate and helping to drive down costs for all payload users (including us). We think that open source and citizen science can play a key role in helping to create a virtuous cycle of cost reduction.

We’ll confess, though – helping to drive down the cost of space access, while important, isn’t our only motive. We also think that space science can be fun, and we don’t think professional researchers should have a monopoly on fun.

Written by Astro1 on July 24th, 2012 , Citizen Science (General), Innovation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *