NASA Open Source Agreement

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NASA Open Source Agreement
NASA logo
NASA logo
Latest version1.3
SPDX identifierNASA-1.3
Debian FSG compatibleNo[1]
FSF approvedNo[2]
OSI approvedYes[3]
GPL compatibleNo[2]
Linking from code with a different licenceYes?

The NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) is an OSI-approved software license. The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) releases some software (such as NASA World Wind and FRET) under this license.

Legislation and NASA policy[edit]

Publication of open source software fits in with Agency functions outlined under the National Aeronautics and Space Act, that is, to "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof."[4]

The NOSA was a point of discussion for NASA's Open Source Summit in March 2011.[5]


NOSA 1.3 has been approved as an open source license by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).[6] The Free Software Foundation, however, raises issue with the following clause:

G. Each Contributor represents 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 FSF states that "free software development depends on combining code from third parties", and because of this requirement that changes must be "original creation" the license is not a free software licence.[2]

In 2018 a consensus study report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine acknowledged that uncertainties about the interpretation of the license served as "a barrier to contributing to NOSA-licensed software."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Debian package description for NASA World Wind. Retrieved on January 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "NASA Open Source Agreement". Various Licenses and Comments about Them. Free Software Foundation. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  3. ^ Licenses & Standards Open Source Initiative
  4. ^ "The National Aeronautics and Space Act". Retrieved January 23, 2008.
  5. ^ "NASA - Open Source Summit 2011".
  6. ^ "Licenses by Name". Open Source Initiative. Open Source Initiative. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  7. ^ "2.4.2 Other Licenses and Compatibility". Open Source Software Policy Options for NASA Earth and Space Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2018. ISBN 978-0-309-48271-4. doi:10.17226/25217

External links[edit]