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What is CSTART?

The Collaborative Space Travel and Research Team (CSTART) is a non-government space agency whose mission is is to organize and finance the efforts of space enthusiasts around the world who are interested in using collaborative design, volunteer labor, innovative, low-cost technology and open data sharing to further the cause of manned and unmanned space travel and research.

What does CSTART actually do?

We do a few things:

  • We create “open source” plans for space travel and research projects, ranging from suborbital sounding rockets (the OHKLA project) all the way up to manned moon landings (the CLLARE project). Our plans are as detailed and as unrestricted as we can possibly make them. We use Creative Commons copyright licenses to make sure anybody can download, redistribute and modify our documents, spreadsheets and CAD models, and we don’t patent our plans. Anybody who has the money and facilities can build and fly one of our projects: government space agencies like NASA or the ESA, eccentric millionaires, universities or large grass roots groups of enthusiasts.
  • We write open source software, including software to help plan space missions, software to run on spacecraft and software to help track and communicate with spacecraft from the ground. We use the GNU General Public License to make sure anybody can download, distribute and modify our software, and we don’t patent our code. Check out the CSTART Software Library to see what we’ve written so far and what we hope to write in future.
  • We raise money to help make our projects come to life. We hope to be able to completely self finance our smaller and simpler projects by buying materials and hardware and relying on volunteer labor from our community to put things together. For larger projects which we cannot realistically self finance, we hope to finance proof-of-concept “subprojects” to test our plans and generate enough enthusiasm for the real deal to attract generous external funding.
  • We share data. We can’t tell other people who might build and fly our missions what to do with the data they collect, but whenever we fly a mission ourselves we will release every byte of data collected to the public: every photograph, every video, all voice recordings, spacecraft telemetry and measurements from scientific instruments will be Creative Commons licensed.

Who are the people behind CSTART?

Team members are located around the globe, and are experts in many different areas: physics and engineering, law and business, graphic design, and everything in between. Participation is encouraged for anyone who wishes to contribute in any small or large, but meaningful way. In this spirit of open-source, CSTART’s work will be made available to others wishing to use our research and techniques, free of charge, in hopes of accelerating the current pace of space exploration. You can find out more about becoming a part of CSTART at our Get Involved page.

At present, CSTART is “run” by a group of 5 Acting Directors.  The Directors are “benevolent dictators” who are concerned with things like administering the website, handling fundraising efforts, and working toward incorporating CSTART as a formal legal entity.  They do not have any authority over technical decisions for CSTART projects.  Once CSTART has been incorporated, the Acting Directors positions will be replaced with more specific positions, whose powers are explicitly limited by a set of bylaws and which will be filled by people determined by a vote amongst the CSTART community.   The Acting Directors are: Luke Maurits (Australia), Rizwan Memon (India), Titan Miller (USA), Ben Miller-Jacobson (USA) and Ryan Pulkrabek (Finland).  Email addressed to directors at cstart dot org will be forwarded to each of the directors.

What are CSTART’s guiding principles?

CSTART is dedicated to open-source design principles, using freely available and open-source tools wherever possible, and easily available resources where an open source alternative does not exist. CSTART is also dedicated to the safe, responsible and peaceful use of space and to operating in a spirit of international unity . These principles are codified in our Social Contract.

Technically speaking, we are dedicated to the ideals of simplicity, reusability and innovation. We try to avoid the use of exotic materials and complicated manufacturing procedures in our designs whenever we can. These goals are codified in our Design Philosophy.

How did CSTART begin?

The team formed spontaneously in late October, 2009 on the social link-sharing site, after a user-submitted question asked about the feasibility of a sending an individual to the moon with resources available to a non-government group. You can find out more at our detailed History of CSTART.

How can I learn more?

You can learn more about CSTART by reading our FAQ and exploring our Wiki.

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