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NASA Open Source Software Build Science

NASA Open Sources Aircraft Design Software 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-a-plane dept.
First time accepted submitter sabre86 writes "At the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Nashville, NASA engineers unveiled the newly open sourced OpenVSP, software that allows users to construct full aircraft models from simple parameters such as wing span and fuselage length, under the NASA Open Source Agreement. Says the website, 'OpenVSP allows the user to create a 3D model of an aircraft defined by common engineering parameters. This model can be processed into formats suitable for engineering analysis.'"
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NASA Open Sources Aircraft Design Software

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  • Re:Strangely (Score:5, Informative)

    by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @01:30PM (#38706482)

    There doesn't seem to be a Linux port at the moment?

    The link you're looking for is

    http://www.openvsp.org/zips/OpenVSP_2.0_community_src.zip [openvsp.org]

    They do not distribute a pre-compiled packaged linux version. Download source, compile, install locally, or wait for the inevitable Debian package to be created (assuming its "open source" license is DFSG free, I have not bothered to analyze it in detail)

  • Paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @01:40PM (#38706566)

    All I can get from the website/wiki is thats its a tool that processes things, which is kind of vague.

    I found this paper via google:

    http://www.mae.virginia.edu/meclab/images/AIAA%20Paper%20--%20VSP.pdf [virginia.edu]

    Not a goatse link, honest.

    If you remember the microsoft flightsimulators of the 80s/90s you could list specs and it would make you a plane, like make me a plane with a 50 foot wingspan and then you would attempt to fly it. This is pretty much the same idea for spec'ing a plane but instead of simulating flying it, it dumps out a file containing the model that you can do "whatever" with. Something like clippy for aerospace cad "so you seem to be trying to make a twin engine turboprop, would you like a wizard to help with that?".

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @01:45PM (#38706606)

    It outputs to rhino, and rhino outputs (with some effort relating to units conversion, or so I hear) to makerbot, so yeah, you could make a model of a X-1 or X-15 or similar rocket powered plane, make a cylindrical cavity in the model for a little estes model rocket engine, and you'd almost be flying, except for the little problem that it might model aerodynamically, but the center of gravity is pretty much ignored, you you're going to have to figure that part out.

  • by Digana (1018720) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:37PM (#38706912)

    Why does NASA, a government agency, claim copyright on software?

    And why does NASA release software under a non-free license [gnu.org]?

    It's not that hard. Use an existing license. Stop inventing your own licenses that conflict with truly free collaboration.

  • Re:Strangely (Score:4, Informative)

    by david.given (6740) <dg@cowlark.cCURIEom minus physicist> on Sunday January 15, 2012 @03:11PM (#38707120) Homepage Journal

    I've just read the license; it all looks pretty standard to me. It's got a requirement for source code distribution alongside binary distributions; it doesn't appear to require that modifications are licensed under the same license (but see below); there's a patent waiver; and there's a number of non-binding clauses that shouldn't be there at all. It's all pretty muddy and unclear.

    The only suspicious bit is that there's a requirement that modified versions of the software are labelled as such in a changelog, and that modifiers must be identifiable. This may violate the Debian Dissident Test [wikipedia.org]. However, it doesn't define what 'identifiable' means. It may be possible to argue that a pseudonym would do. You'd have to ask someone who actually knows.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @04:27PM (#38707658)

    And why does NASA release software under a non-free license?

    GNU's specific complaint: "The NASA Open Source Agreement, version 1.3, is not a free software license because it includes a provision requiring changes to be your “original creation”. Free software development depends on combining code from third parties, and the NASA license doesn't permit this."

    NASA's actual terms: "Each Contributor represents that that its Modification is believed to be Contributor's original creation and does not violate any existing agreements, regulations, statutes or rules, and further that Contributor has sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this Agreement."

    The GNU complaint seems somewhat bogus. By claiming to be the creator, i.e. the copyright holder, and providing the mandatory change logs there is an audit history. NASA has a clear paper trail and a clear assignment of the right to use, modify and distribute from the copyright holder. The Linux kernel being locked into GPL v2 seems to suggest that NASA has thought this through more than the GNU folks did, or perhaps learned from the mistakes of the GNU folks.

  • STFU (Score:3, Informative)

    by bussdriver (620565) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @04:27PM (#38707660)

    Making a 3D skin model and making a real jet are two totally different things. Not to mention the academic information behind this can be openly found and used; I doubt they are adding much theory that isn't already known.

  • Re:Strangely (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ranguvar (1924024) <ranguvar@archlinux.us> on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:39PM (#38708114)

    I looked it up. The NASA Open Source Agreement 1.3 is OSI certified, but the FSF deems it non-free.
    Since NASA World Wind is in Debian's nonfree repository, I assume that would be where this will go too.

    "The NASA Open Source Agreement, version 1.3, is not a free software
    license because it includes a provision requiring changes to be your
    “original creation”. Free software development depends on combining
    code from third parties, and the NASA license doesn't permit this."

    http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2011/04/msg00075.html [debian.org]

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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