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Here's how to download the code NASA uses in its rockets

Here's how to download the code NASA uses in its rockets
LifeScience2 min read

Mars rover

Damian Dovarganes

California Gov. Jerry Brown tours NASA's Mars Curiosity double rover at the Vehicle System Test Bed, or VSTB, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Nerds and future billionaires rejoice: codes used on NASA's rockets are now free and legal to download.

For the second year in a row, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has released its public software catalogue, a list of over 1,000 selected programs and codes available for download via the agency's website.

With only a few restrictions, the release allows US coders and programmers to peak under the hood of NASA programs that the agency doesn't deem too sensitive to share.

Several private sector groups have already made use of NASA's code. According to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), software that NASA has made public in recent years have been used for a variety of purposes, from building roller coasters to tracking whales and designing the compatibility algorithms used in popular dating apps.

The release is a part of a five-year agency plan to speed up the transfer of codes and programs to the the technology sector. The agency's goal is to make code, software, and research available to individuals and private companies to spur public and private sector development.

This year's release adds to a growing list of publicly available NASA programs that includes the software used on the Mars rover, a vehicle sketch pad program used to create digital mock-ups of NASA aircraft and even the digital blueprint of the NASA iPhone app.

The open source program has already been incredibly popular. According to the OSTP, last year's software manual has been downloaded over 100,000 times.

Beyond its benefit to young coders looking to tinker with real space software, NASA's open source program also has plenty of gems for space history buffs. As Wired noted, last year, the organization released programs that ran on the original Apollo 11 lunar modules.

NASA's program has been part of a broader push by the Obama administration to speed up the public release of government research.

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