NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook



I’ve often said that this NASA CIO gig is pretty tough. But, there are many times … like now … where I am proud to be the CIO of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. We launched Spacebook this week. Woo-hoo!

We took a leap of faith and rocketed into social networking this week with the launch of Spacebook, an employee intranet that features user profiles, group collaboration spaces and social bookmarking. This is similar to Facebook, except that it is restricted to NASA’s secure internal network. It’s open to every employee of NASA.

I need to tell you that this whole Web 2.0 thing gives people the willies. We delayed the launch one week to make sure we addressed the very valid concerns raised by our stakeholders. Our legal folks wanted to make sure that we met our policy and regulatory obligations; our IT security folks wanted to make sure that we didn’t expose NASA data or NASA networks to any additional risks; and finally our Office of Human Capital people wanted to make sure that we were all well-behaved and personally accountable.

There are a lot of phobias associated with social networking. I addressed some of them in Time to Face Your Facebook Phobia. I’m sure that many of these concerns were raised about the social impact of the invention of the telephone. Somehow … someway … we worked through those issues. I’m sure that some of those serious issues may appear silly now. I expect that we will look back on the serious issues raised by Web 2.0 technologies in wonder and amazement.

As CIOs we are required to provide lead efforts to improve the competitive advantage our organizations need through implementation of collaborative technologies. Technologies like Facebook and Myspace gives us those capabilities. There are, however, some very valid barriers to entry. Launching capabilities like this on internal networks reduces those barriers of entry. IBM has done this with their internal social networking site, Beehive and MITRE has done this with their internal Twitter capability.

One of the most amazing things about these Web 2.0 technologies and the greatest value to NASA is the ability to help us create a culture of engagement and collaboration that makes each individual employee much more effective. Engaging the public, harnessing the power of crowds, and open and transparent government … as my friend Efrain and fav acquisition professional would say … it’s ALL good Poopsie.

What’s next for Spacebook? There are currently pilots at Ames Research Center and Kennedy Space Center on SharePoint so integrating these capabilities may be desirable. The ability to leverage use of widgets and have use mashable apps is something that we want. We would like to include blogs and a more seamless interface to NASA web capabilities including those potentially offered in the web services sourced by one of NASA’s I3P contracts.

NASA has a strong external presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. Not too many people will “get” this … but back in my heyday, we use to say “IBM sells MVS but they use VM”. Well, now, we at NASA get a chance to actually use more securely and internally the capabilities that we use to communicate to the public. Perhaps these Web 2.0 technologies will make us the bionic agency … will be faster, stronger, better than before. Regardless of the hyperbole, I’m proud this week to be the CIO of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

23 thoughts on “NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook”

  1. The right side of this post scrolls off the page making reading difficult. You might want to fix this.

  2. Ok, Dave Godbey. Thanks for the feedback.

    I fixed the goofy problem with the text falling off. Thank you Emma and NASA Web Support Team.

  3. I wanted to read your linked article “Time to Face Your Facebook Phobia”, but the link took me to a NASA I3P Acquisition page.

  4. Wow, thanks again for pioneering cyber-space as well as your legacy missions to other worlds. To paraphrase my childhood mentor, Rod Serling, “…Welcome to a place, not of this world, or time, but to some otherwhere, welcome to… the Twilight Zone.”

    As a participant in the current conversation on OpenGov, particularly with the Collaboration part of that discussion, I am very excited about SpaceBook, and how it might pattern a cross-agency version. Please let me know how I can help, or participate as an outlander to the NASA group.

  5. Linda:

    I believe your spacebook social network will prove very effective, and could aid in better information sharing amoung the various NASA codes.

    My company FiberGate provides fiber optic connections between many NASA GSFC locations including university of Maryland Internet 11 and NASA NESDIS at Goddard and NOAA Suitland. We have the ability to connect NASA HQ E St SW to NASA Goddard with a dedicated pair of Fiber helping with both bandwidth and security for this and other projects in the future.

    If you have any interest please respond to my email at your convience.

    William J. Boyle
    FiberGate INc
    bboyle@fibergate Inc.

  6. Linda:

    Your idea is GENIUS. It’s the right tool at the right time! As we say in the Navy, Bravo Zulu (great job).



  7. Did you use COTS or GOTS for the Spacebook feature? If COTS, what products? Thanks

  8. Linda,
    I am so honored that you mentioned me in your blog. As always, you are well ahead of the pack! Regarding this endeavor, I can only hope that other agencies (including mine) embrace Facebook and blogs as very important tools to communicate with employees and stakeholders. Charge on my friend.


  9. Linda,
    This is a wonderful achievement for NASA and for all US citizens who benefit from the great work that NASA does. I hope the experimentation and exploration continues to succeed. I know from my implementations of similar efforts that these are not easy projects, but they are rewarding. Bravo!

    I was wondering if you have already, or would be willing to share your thoughts on the adoption process of Spacebook. I’m very interested to find out what you found is working, how to get people to join in a productive manner, and how to guide workers in knowing which tools to use, and when. To the extent you can share some tips, I think your readers would appreciate any advice you might have. I know I would.

    Also few months back, I spoke with some folks at NASA JPL who were working on a somewhat similar project called NASAsphere (using a product called Socialcast – NaSA’s mentioned on their home page). Is this at all related or a coordinated effort?

    Thanks for sharing.
    Gil Yehuda

  10. As someone who speaks to a lot of companies about social media (and to those in highly regulated industries), I tip my hat to you, Linda, and your team for implementing Spacebook! Please keep us informed on how things evolve and what surprises you tackle along the way. We’re rooting for you guys. And, who thought of the name? Brilliant!

    Kenny Lauer
    Executive Director, Digital Experience
    George P. Johnson.

  11. We are considering launching something like your Spacebook at our education center and staff are coming up with many of the same issues you had.

    One of the big concerns is that staff will be playing on our version of “Spacebook” instead of doing their work.

    As educators we are slowly moving into Web 2.0 technologies and I, for one, am very excited.

    Thank you for your article.

  12. No mention of python/django/pinax? These are what Spacebook is built ontop of, no?

  13. I have been following NASA on twitter for a long time but this concepts looks really interesting.but to join this space centre

  14. Its really a nice idea and i think it would be very successful in the future.Wishing you all the best with this project and i am damn sure its bound to succeed.

  15. How does NASA adminstor its sharepoint sites with an emphasis on back up and quick recovery of deleted documents?


  16. That is a very nice move on NASA's part.

    I tried to visit it but I keep on getting an error message using FireFox. Is it still live?

    Sandra of

  17. Spacebook has set a challenge for other agencies… 2 I can call out who should take note are CDC and EPA who have made efforts, but … with Spacebook NASA has put their “footprint” on the Net… and this piece you wrote about it… superb…

  18. I think it's great that even an organization like NASA can find use for social networks like Facebook and Twitter.


  19. I am setting up a knowledge management system for Army Space Operations Officers. I am being pointed to NASA Spacebook as a good I need to follow. Is there a technical POC you could refer me to that I can ask a couple of basic questions about the internal process?

  20. pretty cool. A more business oriented facebook. There are a couple of these out there, but I believe there's a need for an innovative one like this.

  21. Linda,
    I believe you people at NASA somehow or somewhere using sharepoint 2010 and its social features- frankly speaking I used to work with this product and I call it – just amazin- because I have seen Other tools for collaboration or ECM type activities including Web 2.0 supported platform but Sharepoint 2010 stands prominent.
    I also used DoD standard which has also been implemented by US Air Force.
    But Sharepoint 2010 is something very impressive and rocking.
    Take a look at sharepoint 2010 features
    And thanks for allowing comments- and keep writing just amazing info about the technology and your IDEA Social Space SpaceBook.

Comments are closed.