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.

Nick Skytland

We’re excited to announce the release of “39A”, an updated version of the software used to power the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge*, a global hackathon focusing on space technology and issues. 39A is an online collaboration platform designed to help your community take ‘giant leaps’ forward in addressing your challenges and meeting your mission goals. It is easily customizable with your own graphics and branding and the platform is intended to be an inspirational launch pad for your collaborations!

We developed this open innovation platform to enable collaborative problem solving around a shared challenge. Our goal was to directly involve and empower citizens in our exploration mission, evolve government to be more efficient and effective by creating a vehicle for open innovation and worldwide participation, and accelerate the development of innovative new technology.

The software is customized for management of global mass collaborations or large-scale hackathons like the International Space Apps Challenge. It can be used for multiple events, it will scale to include hundreds of locations and thousands of participants, it’s flexible enough to create challenge pages supported with data and other resources, and most importantly, it seamlessly supports a truly global collaboration between participants in physical locations as well as those participating virtually.

39A is released under an Apache 2.0 license and built on top of Django, a high-level Python Web framework. The theme is a clean, responsive design and takes advantage of modern web standards. A summary of the major features is included below. You can download the software here.


  • Flat and Modern Design
  • Fully Responsive
  • Easy Setup and Customization
  • Social Media Integration (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Github, Hackpad, Disqus)
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and IE 7+.
  • Well documented

Home Page
Features a drop-down menu, a world map with links to location pages and the three latest posts from Tumblr. The page is designed to be highly customizable based on your needs.

Location management functionality that includes custom pages for each physical events as well as virtual communities. Location pages include fields for details about the specific venue as well as integration with the project pages

Challenge management functionality that includes custom pages for each challenge. Challenge pages include fields for descriptions about the challenge, as well as integration with the project pages. Challenge pages also feature integration with hackpad for collaborative note taking.

Project management functionality that includes custom pages for each project created by a team. Project pages feature the team members who contributed, a brief overview of information about the project, as well as fields for additional resources. Each project page integrates the Disqus comment management system. The default project page is sorted by challenge. Project pages are integrated with the location and challenge pages as well.

Award management functionality that provides a workflow for the recognition of project teams by location at the local and global level.

User Management
Utilizes the Django user authentication system, which handles user accounts, groups, permissions and cookie-based user sessions.

39A, and the entire International Space Apps Challenge, was a labor of love by so many.  These few thousand lines of code were greatly influenced by the entire NASA Open Innovation Program team especially the project manager Ali Llewellyn, and the heavily lifting was performed by the amazing Sean Herron and William Eshagh.

* On 20-21 April 2013, over 9,000 people around the world participated in one of the galaxy’s largest mass collaborations ever - the International Space Apps Challenge. To learn more about the International Space Apps Challenge and to get involved in the 2014 event, visit