Space 2.0

CopenhagenSuborbitalsTriggered by the Space 2.0 LinkedIn group I wrote this blog post, investigating what 2.0 means in space exploration. It is interesting to see the 2.0-hype spread over all aspects of society these days. It is being used for anything slightly futuristic, regardless whether it is really something new. And with the widespread of the term 2.0, newer developments are now slated 3.0 or even higher. So what is ‘Space 2.0′ really?

Definition of Space 2.0

In my definition 2.0 stands for a new society paradigm, where well informed people act and interact in new ways. Not just between people, but also between people and organizations, or between organizations. It implies full access to information, and innovation based on trust and new forms of working together. It can be described by buzzwords like prosumers, co-creation, cloud computing, agile organizations and social media integration.

So what does this mean to space? I am looking at this forum to provide some meaning to the term ‘Space 2.0′. What are some of the best practices? Let me start the discussion by providing two examples of what I think Space 2.0 should be:

1 – Space ambassadors through social media

A great example of finding new ways to attract public attention to space exploration is provided by NASA and ESA. They have experimented with new social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach out to the general public. In contrast to the ‘normal’ PR efforts by these organizations, they are using these new tools to involve the audience, rather than just inform them. NASA TV, started online in 2005, is now one of the most popular online TV channels, winning an Emmy Award in 2009.

But real two-way communication started a few years later, when NASA discovered Twitter and Facebook. In 2009 they took their 2-way interaction a step further by introducing ‘NASATweetups‘, where Twitter followers are invited to a VIP program at NASA premises and events. In addition they introduced NASA chats, where people are encouraged to interact with NASA staff on twitter, all the way up to Charles Bolden and Lori Garver. This effort to involve the general public has led to 1.3 million followers on Twitter and a stunning 150 million hits on the website(s) in 2011.

Encouraged by the great example set by NASA, the European Space Agency ESA started exploring these new social media tools for their European audience too. In September 2011 ESA and DLR organized the first European Space Tweetup, which was a huge success and triggered a lot of attention and interest in Europe’s space program. With 2012 now being advertised as the ‘social media year’, these early steps may make NASA and ESA true Space 2.0 leaders.

2 – Open source spaceflight

A much smaller, but not less interesting example of Space 2.0 can be found in Denmark. In 2008 space entrepreneur Christian von Bengtson gathered a group of likeminded people to develop launchers and spacecraft. But instead of becoming another commercial space company, they set up Copenhagen Suborbitals as a non-profit and open source organization. They use volunteers, donations and other public means to work on their dream of building cheap and reliable space craft for general (but peaceful) use. Over the course of only 3 years they have built and tested several engines, launchers and space capsules.

I am sure there are many more examples of true ’2.0′ work in the space industry. Things I have not researched, but jump to mind are the X-Prize initiatives and perhaps some elements of commercial spaceflight. I hope some of the readers here can help me gather more evidence of a new ‘Space 2.0′ industry in 2012 and beyond.

Crossposted from the Spacetweeps Society Blog

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