Open Source Philosophy

"Open source" is a term most often associated with software. According to a Wikipedia description: "Open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations." The concept of open source has expanded to include engineering design, education materials, and other collections of data and design.

The core notion of open source is that people are encouraged to contribute to the development and refinement of a project and that the result of that collaboration can be used by others so long as the source of the information is acknowledged. When fully and openly encouraged and implemented, an open source approach can result in expertise freely offered in a way that reduces or eliminates cost and offers a path to constant improvement. By virtue of being 'free' the product of such an activity can be much more widely used and is often ideally suited for individuals without significant financial resources.

One example of how an open source approach can facilitate space exploration is Copenhagen Suborbitals in Denmark. They have put their entire suborbital rocket design online. Another example is the Cubesat concept which has become a de facto standard for small satellite design. By adopting an open source approach Space College can encourage collaboration and dissemination to a wide, potentially global audience of participants. Ideally, anyone, anywhere should be able to design a satellite.

The only potential issue with an open source approach is the U.S. Restriction on some technology due to ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) - however much of the previous satellite technology once restricted by ITAR is now being removed from ITAR restriction. That said, Space College will always remain cognizant that ITAR is an issue that affects operations in the U.S. and that similar restrictions may also operate in other countries. ITAR regulations do have a specific exemption for things that are generally taught in schools, so it is expected that ITAR will not hinder Space College activities to any great degree. That said, Space College will remain cognizant of ITAR implications with regard to its activities within and outside the U.S.

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