Open Source in Space

May 20, 2021 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Virtual meeting

By popular request we are providing an evening on open source in space. Three great talks with three international speakers. We’ll have a broad discussion of the area from Eleftherios Kosmas of the LibreSpace foundation, how to make space accessible to all from Artur Scholz of LibreCube, and finally how to explore space from the comfort of your armchair with Alexander Bock of OpenSpace.

Our MC for the evening is Bill Harpley

18:00 – Feel free to join the online meeting to chat with other participants
18:30 – Presentations
20:00 – Closing discussion

There is no requirement to register, you can just connect to livestream using BigBlueButton on this link.  We are also recording the talks for later posting on our YouTube channel.

The livestream link will be open from 18:00 for networking, and the event will start at 18:30 prompt. We’ll keep the link open afterwards for discussion.

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Claiming Space the Libre Way: From a basement workshop to orbit

Eleftherios Kosmas, Libre Space Foundation

Libre Space Foundation is a non-profit organisation aiming to alleviate the barriers of participating in space for all. To do so, our community develops, open-source hardware, free software open-data in a transparent way following the principles of the Libre Space Manifesto (, ranging from satellite ground-station equipment to satellite missions.

This talk will cover some of the Libre Space Foundation’s projects, the underlying open-source technologies used in these projects ranging from Python, Django, Machine learning, Grafana, GNU-Radio, embedded development, PCB design using KiCad, Mechanical Engineering using FreeCAD and more while discussing pathways to participate.

Finally, this talk will discuss the relevancy of open-source development methodologies in space based on a report we recently generated for the European Space Agency focusing on the challenges and opportunities organisations face in adopting them in an efficient and sustainable way.

Eleftherios Kosmas is the vice-chair of Libre Space Foundation, a member of the local hackerspace in Athens, Greece and a technologist at the University of Athens.

LibreCube – Open Source Ecosystem for Space and Earth Exploration

Artur Scholz, LibreCube

LibreCube’s vision is to enable everyone to get involved in building systems for exploration of Earth and Space using open source hardware and software. We believe that discovering new worlds and getting scientific insights should be a matter to all humankind.

Without doubt, CubeSats have sparked a revolution towards access to space for students, radio amateurs, new-space start-ups, and space enthusiasts in general. In short, CubeSats have allowed a much broader audience to establish their own space projects.

Currently there are overwhelming many entities and people engaged in building CubeSats but still collaboration and knowledge exchange is at a minimum. There is almost no single academic institute that shares detailed CubeSat design information. Also, today’s CubeSat developers are mainly concerned with system integration; they purchase CubeSat equipment from different vendors and struggle with putting it all together. With all these products being largely incompatible and complex, CubeSat failures rates are accordingly high.

At LibreCube we are convinced that CubeSats provide an ideal opportunity to prove that things can be done differently, not only in terms of technology, but also on how to implement and conduct space missions. We do not object commercialization of CubeSats, but we favour an open market where more weight is put on collaboration than on competition.

LibreCube is resting on these three pillars:

  1. Open Source: Everything we do at LibreCube is made available to the public as free and open source. And we only use free and open source tools; this way, really everyone can get involved and contribute!
  2. Free and Open Standards: We rely on proven and tested standards for our system designs, with preference to standards from the space domain.
  3. Reference Architecture: Defining a generic architecture of system of systems that have standardized interfaces makes it possible to combine and reuse elements for various applications.

In this presentation, you will be given an overview on some current LibreCube projects with examples on their utilization. You will also learn on how you can actively join LibreCube and what practical space engineering skills and knowledge you can expect out of it – next to a lot of fun!

During my time at university I have managed to realize two CubeSats missions, all the way from idea on paper up to orbit. Only later I understood that building CubeSats is fun, but even more so doing it collaborativly with an open source community. That is when I started the LibreCube Initative in my spare time a few years ago, which now has about 100+ supporters and 20+ space related projects.

I am employed at VisionSpace and working for ESA, supporting two interplanetary exploration missions: Cluster-II that studies the Earth’s magnetosphere and JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) to be launched in 2022.

OpenSpace: An open-source astrovisualization framework to visualize the universe

Alexander Bock, Linköping University

In this talk I will present and demonstrate the NASA-funded open-source framework OpenSpace, which is a flexible tool for astronomy and visualization research built exclusively on open-source technology, developed in collaboration between Linköping University, the American Museum of Natural History, NASA’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center, New York University, and the University of Utah. The software is a scalable platform that paves the way for the next generation of public outreach by enabling the same visualization in immersive environments, such as dome theaters and planetariums, and off-the-shelf computer hardware and provides the user with the ability to ingest a myriad of different data formats. Some of the key features of the framework are GlobeBrowsing, which enables contextualization of very high resolution planetary surface imagery, the interactive visualization of large star fields, exemplified on the >1 billion stars of the Gaia DR2 dataset, dynamic image projection used to visualize timeline of spacecraft missions, such as the New Horizons and Rosetta missions, and seamlessly traversing the about 10^20 meters to the edge of the observable universe.

The talk will contain a brief introduction into the software framework, its origins, and the design principles behind it. Additionally, each stop along this journey will include a brief description of the implementation considerations and the required astronomy background.

Alexander Bock is an Assistant Professor at Linköping University, Sweden. Prior to this, he has been Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow with the Center for Data Science at New York University and a Research Fellow with the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute at the University of Utah. He received his PhD in Visualization and Interaction from Linköping University, Sweden. In 2015, he was a visiting Research Scholar with the Community Coordinated Modeling Center at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, USA. He is also the Development Lead on the open-source Astrovisualization software OpenSpace. Bock was awarded 2014 and 2015 with the Best Scientific Visualization poster and 2017 with the Best Scientific Visualization paper awards at the IEEE Visualization conference for his work in the field of Astrovisualization.