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DIY Space

Space Exploration is a new theme to South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. One of the courses that caught my attention was Crowd-Sourcing the Space Frontier. The session shed light on several hands-on opportunities for space enthusiasts.

Edward Wright, of the United States Rocket Academy, thinks we are entering a third age of space. The first age being government driven and the second age provided wealthy individuals opportunity to travel to space. The third age is do-it-yourself transportation, technology, and research. Wright compares what’s happening with space right now to what we experienced with personal computing. When parts to build computers became readily accessible, there was a great increase in computing innovation.

Wright talked about what was happening at Lynx with the suborbital, reusable launch vehicle. If you don’t have the cash for a launch vehicle consider developing something to be tested on the Lynx Cube Payload Carrier. Your payload can ride for free as long as you make all of your research and findings open source. He also spoke about Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, that fosters citizen science and citizen space travel. The group is currently hosting a High Altitude Astrobiology Competition with a $10,000 prize.

Stephen Murphy, of http://www.diyrocketscience.com, expanded on what’s happening in the public sphere with space innovation. He talked about the increasing number of successfully funded space-oriented Kickstarter projects since SkyCube was funded late last year. Murphy’s website serves as a great resource for those want to learn about rocket science and start building their own crafts.

Darlene Damm’s project Open Space University, a.k.a. DIY Rockets, is a global space company dedicated to creating an open space frontier. The site includes opportunities to learn about open space with categories including Space Robots, Space Ethics and Policy, and Communication and Navigation. The site will feature Space Garage and a Design Gallery. DIY Rockets also host competitions to help advance their cause. The current competition is for a 3D printed rocket engine, first prize is $5,000.

NASA has become more welcoming to working with outside groups over the last couple years. The Open Innovation a program that looks for outside individual and groups “to pursue external alliances to establish a balanced portfolio of research and technology solutions for human health and performance during human space flight.” The opportunity Chris Gerty talked about was the Space Apps Challenge a 48-hour, worldwide competition to advance open source solutions relevant to life on earth and in space. A couple challenges have included developing a CubeSat that could hitch a ride with the Mars Science Lab and expanding the Spot the Station features.

The panelists were Darelene Damm, Founder and Co-president of DIY Rockets, Chris Gerty of Open Innovation at NASA, Edward Wright of the United States Rocket Academy, and Stephen Murphy of diyrocketscience.com.

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