MeetingNotes-19Jan06

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Meeting Summary

The purpose of the meeting was to hold a brainstorming session. As this was our first meeting we covered introductions and discussed some of the background of the idea.

One of the main items we discussed was what could be a good set of initial content in order to build up a base of users (both information contributors and "consumers"). It seemed that a good area to start might be in putting together a way so that when people publish papers and theses, they could contribute the models and data to the site so that additional people could make use of them and build upon them. The idea of having theses seemed like it may be particularly powerful, since students are supposed to document their models and data as part of their thesis, although in most cases they just end up sitting on shelves (since they aren't typically in usable form.)

It was also noted that people have posted a number of useful models and data sets on various websites across the internet, but that their usefulness is limited by the fact that there really isn't any central focus point for them. By identifying and compiling such resources, we could serve to create such a focal point and thus increase the benefit people derive from them. Another example in this line is that Brian Williams apparently is interested in creating some sort of AI library, so it would be useful to touch base with him to see if we could collaborate.

On a related topic, we discussed possibly creating an "Open STK" type of tool (we'd need to find a different name) that pulled together a variety of orbital dynamics and propulsion tools (as well as other over time.) This could be based in part on the tools developed during the NASA Moon and Mars exploration studies that some of us have been involved in over the last year and a half. We could also draw in elements from a variety of other sources (Wilfried mentioned that when he was at TU Munich a number of students had developed code that could be useful in such a regards).

In terms of other potential projects/content, we thought it would be worthwhile contacting some of the emerging space companies (SpaceDev, Scaled, etc.) to see if they either had particular things they'd be willing to contribute to such a community or if there were particular things they would find useful that might be worth developing as an open source project.

We also discussed potential forms of funding for the overall activity. We could probably bootstrap the initial startup using resources we already have or could get access to around (servers and such), but in the longer term getting some "real" funding to support ongoing maintenance and development would be quite useful. It seemed that the most likely source of significant, long-term funding would be NASA, given that they would be directly benefiting from the activity and would have the resources to support it. We also discussed a number of other potential sources of support -- these are listed below in the "notes from the whiteboard section". Some of them would probably be more significant funding sources once the organization was off the ground, others, notably university (MIT) funding could help to get us moving early on.


So, those are the highlights. If anyone else has other things to add, please do so.


Notes from the whiteboard

  • What is a good starting point?
    • Papers/articles with associated models
    • Theses and models
    • Classes

The three above could get comments, reviews, and errata through the process

    • Does mathworld already do something like this? What are other models?
    • Should scour the web for existing materials
    • Talk to Brian Williams about AI library
  • Why would people want to do this?
    • To share, review, and enhance
  • Funding sources
    • Grants
      • Universities
      • NASA
      • private
    • Sponsorship
      • Boeing, Lockheed, etc.
    • Subscriptions
    • Membership
    • Corporate
    • Ads
    • Donations
      • Small
      • Large
    • Somebody funding the core development
  • Check with emerging space corporations as to what can be opened / would be useful to have
    • Spacedev
    • Spacex
    • Bigelow
    • Scaled
    • X-prize, rocket racing league
    • etc
  • “Open STK” project
    • Check with TUM, Berkeley
    • Based on eclipse?


The following was handed out as an agenda at the meeting to spur discussion. We can obviously discuss further.


The purpose of this meeting is to serve as a brainstorming and discussion session regarding the DevelopSpace concept. The idea of DevelopSpace is to enable a wide variety of individuals and groups to participate in the exploration and development of space through the open creation and sharing of ideas, information, and designs.

Potential topics for the meeting, in no particular order, include:

  • Overview of the DevelopSpace concept and work done so far
  • Types of projects that may use the DevelopSpace system
    • What do they need from the system
  • How to enable collaboration and exchange of information
  • Names for the project (DevelopSpace is a placeholder for the moment)
  • Providing version control for information
    • Text files, word, excel, CAD, other
  • Modeling tools
  • How the effort could gain financial support
  • Users
    • Who
    • How to develop “trust”
  • Documentation, design, and model review processes
  • Relevant examples/models
    • E.g., wikipedia, sourceforge, apache, etc.
  • Licensing options/issues
  • How should the system be built
  • How to get members involved
  • How to get projects involved