July 29, 2022

The Space Apps Origin Story

Read how Space Apps got its start before becoming the largest annual global hackathon

space_apps_2012.Group of Space Apps participants in a room together posing for a picture wearing black Space Apps t-shirts-992

(Pictured: One of the first Space Apps events in 2012)

Ten years ago, in 2012, the annual Space Apps hackathon launched as the International Space Apps Challenge with 2,083 participants. Now named the “NASA International Space Apps Challenge,” it has grown into the largest annual global hackathon with 28,286 participants. A decade of growth has contributed to the global Space Apps community in over 162 countries and territories, and developed a collaboration between space agency partners around the world, Local Leads, SMEs, and Global and Amplification Collaborators.

How was the idea of Space Apps created?

The inspiration came from Random Hacks of Kindness, a hackathon that allows people and technology to work together for social good. Space Apps grew from that idea to incorporate Local Leads, communities, and government agencies. This effort encouraged people around the world to use open data from NASA and other space agency partners to innovate solutions for challenges faced on Earth and in space.

At the time of Space Apps’ inception, the U.S. government was already committed to the Open Government Partnership and to openly sharing available data, supplied through NASA missions and technology, with the public. The commitment was to promote transparency, participation, and collaboration between government and citizens. Space Apps served as the connection between this data and the people, creating “innovation through international collaboration.”

Space Apps opened up challenges for space exploration and social needs, allowing citizens around the world to solve a variety of challenges, connected through video and in person. The foundation of Space Apps promoted collaboration, eliminated barriers of entry to the NASA innovation ecosystem, and facilitated access to tools and resources that were otherwise inaccessible to the public. Today, Space Apps continues to build off this foundation by providing virtual and in-person participation opportunities open to anyone and has expanded support to participants through tools such as Virtual Bootcamp, Global Planning Calls, and Global Collaborator Offers.

Space Apps now serves as a pathway to international collaboration by connecting cities and countries. The NASA Space Apps Challenge two-day event has proven that huge global communities can be created virtually and in person to develop diverse and innovative projects that can solve challenges faced on Earth and in space.

The NASA International Space Apps Challenge Today

At Space Apps, there is always space for one more. In 2022, it celebrates that ongoing commitment through the theme of this 11th annual hackathon, “Make Space.” Make Space emphasizes NASA’s commitment to inclusivity and highlights the focus on Earth and space science, technology, and exploration in the hackathon as a mass collaboration event. With the collaboration of the Earth Science Division and Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C., Booz Allen Hamilton, Mindgrub, SecondMuse, and the NASA Open Innovation Applied Sciences Program, Space Apps has grown across 162 countries and territories and has partnered with more than 10 space agencies from around the globe.

Space Apps welcomes you, wherever you are in the world, to join the Space Apps community and to build global collaboration and innovation with us. Register for the Oct 1-2 event!

Connect with the #SpaceApps community!

Instagram: @nasa_spaceapps Twitter: @SpaceApps Facebook: @spaceappschallenge

YouTube: NASA Space Apps Challenge