In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Chris Gerty

This weekend at the International Space Apps Challenge, you can be a hero in many ways.  But let’s focus on the hardware hero for a moment.  They’re the ones who seem to have that exact adapter you need to charge your phone or laptop when you’re at 2% power.  They live by the belief that if you can’t open it, you don’t really own it. Also, and most importantly for this weekend, they approach every problem with a keen eye for how the digital world meets the physical one.

How can you be a hardware hero?

Step 1:  Do your homework.  No, I’m not talking about memorizing periodic tables and melting points of steel alloys. Rather, browse the latest hardware-related blogs, see what people are making out of their Arduino or Raspberry Pi.  Then, after browsing through the Space Apps Challenges, try a simple project or two this week, brainstorming ways that a solution could fit into the real world using open hardware.  Be the expert everyone’s looking for when it’s time to take a software solution to the next level and make those bits and bytes interact with molecules and atoms.

Step 2:  Bring your hardware.  The hardware hero is always prepared when ‘bits’ need to meet up with ‘atoms’.  So bring your breadboard and batteries.  Show up to the #spaceapps venue with a huge backback - maybe even a roller suitcase full of gadgets and parts ready for tinkering.  You never know that sensor or display that you’re going to need to being that great idea to life.

Step 3:  Share your skills.  Not only is teaching the best way to learn, but when someone is learning how to make and use a piece of hardware, they free themselves from how it works inside, and focus on what it does for the user.  The most important thing you could do while designing a hardware solution is put it in front of someone who doesn’t know how it works. Teach them how to use it and the resulting solution will be better, and just maybe - you will have created another hardware hero in the process.

Remember heros - with great power comes great responsibility - now go make something awesome!!