A 48-Hour Career: Space Apps By Numbers

| When the International Space Apps Challenge wrapped up on the evening of April 21th 2013 in Maui, it had become the largest hackathon in the galaxy. After the event, Space Apps 2013 was seen the world over as a resounding success; bringing together thousands of people from all over the world to solve problems relevant […]

When the International Space Apps Challenge wrapped up on the evening of April 21th 2013 in Maui, it had become the largest hackathon in the galaxy. After the event, Space Apps 2013 was seen the world over as a resounding success; bringing together thousands of people from all over the world to solve problems relevant to not just the mission of space exploration, but also problems facing us here on earth. Put simply, it was awesome. But exactly how big was Space Apps 2013? What precisely made Space Apps as awesome as it was? It is these very questions that will be answered in this, the inaugural edition of Space Apps By Numbers! *Everyone Cheers*

First, let’s build out the numerical foundations of Space Apps before we delve into the statistical interior decorating that will hopefully inform your decision on how awesome Space Apps was. During the event, 9147 registered participants collaborated across 83 event locations, as well as virtually, in 44 different countries. These participants produced 770 unique solutions to over 58 challenges curated by NASA and 20 other agencies/organizations [1]. This data is awesome, but you all have probably heard it all before, plus it’s not portrayed in a way that is particularly relevant to most people. For example after a certain point, a given number of people just becomes “a lot of people”.

Here’s a few ways to think about how much work was done over the course of the weekend which could be relevant to most people: The number of man-hours contributed over the weekend of Space Apps 2013 was equivalent to a single person working for 33 years of their life [2]. The solutions produced have an a very conservatively estimated total value of $4.6 million; if Space Apps was a startup it would be doing very well! In fact, Space Apps wouldn’t just be successful in terms of capital, but also productivity; roughly 15 times more mobile apps were developed over the course of the Space Apps weekend than NASA itself has ever published [3].

Unfortunately, not many of the awesomely fun statistics I just shared with you (you’re welcome) are space-related. I mean come on, we’re NASA!!! Let’s make our statistics relevant to NASA! If we assume that all of the people who participated in Space Apps were working on NASA projects, and therefore think of them as NASA employees, then Space Apps increased NASA’s workforce by 50.1% (but just for the weekend) [4].  At NASA, we unequivocally support all of our astronauts. That’s why we like this statistic: There were enough volunteer hours during Space Apps to construct two brand new spacesuits from scratch, for the two NASA astronauts currently in orbit, and to build new houses for the rest of the active duty NASA astronauts still on earth [5].

[1] International Space Apps Challenge final report: http://bit.ly/16LJsC0

[2] OECD.StatExtracts: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=ANHRS

[3] List of NASA developed apps: http://1.usa.gov/18835Rx, calculation assumes 80% of solutions at Space Apps were mobile apps.

[4] NASA Workforce Profile: http://1.usa.gov/1884lnr

[5] Spacesuit build time: http://1.usa.gov/buJSpm, “Workflow Analysis in Production Homebuilding” by H. Bashford et al: http://bit.ly/16seZV5


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