IAC 2007

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  • Accepted for full presentation
  • Full paper due September 1, 2007

Building-Up the Technical Foundations for Human Space Activities through Open Source Space Endeavors

Abstract

This paper examines ways in which the “open source” concept, which emerged from the software world and is currently being applied in a variety of endeavors, can be used to advance human space activities. In general, open source (in this context) is defined as an approach in which the technical information required to solve a particular problem or provide a particular service or capability (typically source code in the context of open source software) is openly shared under a license which allows for use, modification, and redistribution of the relevant information without royalties. Space projects face a wide variety of technical challenges which must be overcome in order to successfully achieve their objectives. While specific technical challenges are in some cases unique to an individual project, in many cases the majority of challenges represent obstacles that have been overcome in previous projects, although frequently the solutions to these challenges are not widely available. As such, identical work must frequently be repeated across space endeavors, increasing both the cost and risk (both developmental and operational) of such activities. By instead providing the information required to overcome the technical obstacles inherent in all space activities in an open source manner, the technical foundations for human space activities can be incrementally increased over time more effectively, and with significantly decreased need for duplication of effort. New space activities can be initiated more quickly and for lower cost and risk than under traditional space development paradigms. Opportunities for international collaboration and the inclusion of contributions from individuals around the world in space activities are also greatly increased under this model, thereby greatly enlarging the intellectual resource base for the advancement and development of human space endeavors.