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.

Ali Llewellyn

We need your help! There are a number of exciting space-related panels proposed for next year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin. SXSW is a community-driven event and voting accounts for 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming slot. The selection process is extremely competitive and this year there are 3600 proposed panels, of which only 500 get selected. The more votes we submit for the space panels, the more likely a panel related to space exploration will be included in the final SxSW program. Voting ends on Friday, August 31 (11:59 PM CST), so please vote today!

To help you out, we’ve put together a directory for all the space related panels. This includes panels that have NASA representation as well others that may not necessarily be NASA affiliated.

1. @NASA: The User Experience of a Space Station

What kind of software would you design to support astronauts aboard a space station? Well, in this session, we’ll show you. We are two NASA designers who want to share a little about what we do, the situations we design for, and where UX in space is heading. Here’s a few of the topics we’ll talk about:

  • The history of user experience in space. In the Apollo and Shuttle eras, most things happened on paper. And, for better or worse, many of the design strategies they used in their notebooks with are still in use today.

  • The state of art aboard the Space Station. Crew members currently rely on a bevy of acronym loaded tools (OSTPV, IPV, OCAMS) to do their job. We’ll take a look at what these tools do.

  • What’s next. If you watched the attached video, you know there’s room for improvement. We’re rethinking the software experience both aboard the station and in mission control. Our hope is simple: to make NASA software cool again. We’ll give you a sneak peek.

2. Ask NASA Astronauts Live from Space

Ask the astronauts via a live video downlink directly from the International Space Station about using technology to communicate with us down here on Earth. The nation’s space agency has embraced the use of social media to reach out, engaging new audiences in new ways and giving people behind-the-scenes access to areas rarely seen by the public. Communicating from space is no exception to this pattern of openness. By using tweets, blog posts and streamed video interviews with groups across the world, the astronauts living and working on orbit have a unique vantage point in which to conduct science-altering experiments, encourage the next generation to study STEM in school and to open a door that rekindles the dreamer in all of us. Communicate directly with some of the astronauts aboard the space station during this panel and explore all the ways that you can connect with what’s going on way up there from all the way down here.

3. Apollo 13: America’s First Galactic Hackathon

It was April of 1970. Apollo 13 was going to be the third space mission to land on the moon. But on its way, nearly two hundred thousand miles from home and hours away from landing on the Moon, an explosion occurred on the spacecraft that changed history. Teams in Mission Control had to respond quickly to save the crew - and hopefully the mission. Apollo 13 was the world’s first galactic hackathon. Although some of the most brilliant minds in the country were working on these problems, with so many factors that could go wrong, many felt the crew would not be coming home. Some observers gave the crew a one in 10 chance of survival. The mission was not easy… but in a very short amount of time, and against all odds, collaborative teams of engineers, developers and subject matter experts invented the technology to return the crew safely to earth. Join us for a discussion about America’s first galactic hackathon and explore the leadership lessons from Apollo’s failed success.

4. Get Physical: Making Space Data Real on Earth

Most of us dream about space exploration - but haven’t yet touched those stars ourselves. Can earth science and other open data connect us physically and personally to the exploration of the universe? It could be that the Space Station is overhead; it could be that a solar storm has exceeded a threshold; or that in space it is very very cold. Can we adorn and decorate our lives with what we’ve learned from space? Can we bring data close to us to engage us physically in far-off exploration- and let those interactions to change our digital lives? We’ll look at a variety of real space data and the international, cross-disciplinary collaborations that can discover its secrets. There is a certain thrill that you feel when you know that you are connected to something. From our earliest use of technology to synchronize and connect communities we have used simple interactions and design to inform people, providing connections to things and places beyond ourselves. Let’s see what’s possible.

​5. Making it to Mars

We, humans, will go to Mars. Depending on who you ask, it may be in 20 years, or 200. The Mars shot of tomorrow will not look like the Moon shot of yesterday. The future necessitates a much tighter balance of human-centered design, technological prowess, and social responsibility. With the panelists, we invite you to explore this living network, engage in an ongoing discussion of design in space, hone your conceptual skills, and create a collective vision of our future in space.

​6. The Explorer Next Door: NASA, Women and YOU!

This panel is about YOU: The student, retiree, hobbyist, underdog, and/or dreamer donating time, resources, and creativity to explore the unknown. Instead of describing opportunities available for women to engage with NASA, this conversation will feature a diverse selection of space geeks and citizen scientists who will share personal successes & failures as they break barriers & stereotypes in order to better understand the world around us. Sure, there might be an astronaut, engineer and a few NASA employees in attendance, but the discussion and purpose of this panel is to connect female makers, problem solvers, and hackers with the needs and people of OUR Agency. To sustain dialogue, attendees will be invited to an exclusive post-event TweetUp to address participatory exploration questions. Participants will also be encouraged to share imagery for a tool that will be launched in time for SXSW featuring women citizen scientists on the Women@NASA website.

7. Startup NASA

Tired of the constant stream of buzzwords and platitudes thrown around organizations in an attempt to create a sense of innovation and intrapreneurship? Do new ideas, bold endeavors, and a spirit of adventure sound more exciting than a corporate retreat to discuss upcoming performance metrics? Three years ago, a small group of unconventional thinkers at NASA gathered together with a simple goal - to change the way we look at exploration of the universe and to take the best of startup culture and implant it in a large, traditional government bureaucracy.

Hear from some of these thinkers about their thoughts on organizational culture change, the future of the Nation’s space program, and discuss how you, too, can be a exploration trailblazer in your organization.

8. Crowdsourcing the Space Frontier

Space promises enormous opportunities to those who first explore it. Can we all be part of this endeavor? Will you be part of it?

With the arrival of the crowd-sourcing and open-source movements, never before have humans had the opportunity to transform and build entire industries in such short time frames and with mass participation. We have seen Linux, Firefox, Wikipedia and millions of app developers demonstrate this in the software world. With the arrival of the Makers movement and recent initiatives to crowd-source, crowd-fund and open-source space technology we may be seeing this same trend in space. This session explores the history, opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs, companies, nonprofits and governments wishing to lead the way in this unexpected frontier. Help us answer: Why is this trend happening? Is it here to stay? Is it viable? Can we create a collaborative global space industry? Who, if anyone, will emerge as the primary catalysts for this industry?

​9. News 2.0

Traditional media is slowly transforming. Reporters and beats are being cut. Newsrooms are being trimmed back. Is it time to kill the press release? Is it time to shift your news release paradigm to be digital products first? NASA invites public affairs and new media professionals to join us for an engaging exchange of ideas about how to continue spreading the word about your organizations’ programs, mission and projects, given the realities of the modern media market. We’ve been experimenting in this changing media landscape, and we want to hear your thoughts and ideas about the future of communications going forward. The rise of web technologies and social media engagement have forever altered the relationship between organizations’, the media that have previously spread their news, and the audiences you are trying to reach — so how do you continue to do this effectively?

10. The Hacker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Don’t panic: the next big science revolution isn’t just for asteroid miners or CERN scientists. Just as science fiction has often shown the way to future inventions, the act of hacking is now generating prototypes that act as footholds for future explorations, discoveries and epiphanies in science. This presentation takes you on a tour of our universe (from black holes and dark matter to exoplanets and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) and shows you how you can actively explore the final frontier through getting excited and making things.

​11. [The Death of .gov and the Rise of Diverse Engagement ][]

Technology in government isn’t just about putting up a new .gov website, or creating a new platform - it can’t be, because the public demands better services where they already are engaging, and they need these services now. This panel will get to the bottom of not just the future of citizen engagement, but the movement to deliver on the promise of open source, mobile citizen engagement right now by any means necessary.

[][The Death of .gov and the Rise of Diverse Engagement ]

12. INTERNET, I AM IN YOU! A NASA Rover Lands Online

A tweet that will live in infamy, “GALE CRATER, I AM IN YOU” heralded a new era of space exploration and conversation between NASA and the general public. As the Curiosity Mars rover touched down on the Red Planet, the teams at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were sharing the historic event on Twitter, Facebook, Ustream, YouTube, Google+, Xbox Live, mobile apps and in-real-life landing parties. The Mars Science Laboratory mission propelled the interest and attention of the nation back onto the space program — all while competing against the London Olympics and the presidential campaign. And what the public saw was a hipper, more accessible NASA — one that generated an avalanche of memes from Unimpressed Curiosity to Mohawk Guy. What went on behind the scenes with this campaign that helped NASA capture the public’s attention, and can NASA and JPL keep the interest and excitement going?

It’s exciting to see that NASA has so much more than just space exploration to share, but that we are truly pushing boundaries in communication, engagement and technology development. Can’t wait to see you in Austin.