A few months ago I realised it has been 10 years already since Spacelabs 1 was founded. Today we will celebrate that with a reunion and probably reminisce about past projects, events and experiences. Therefore, I thought it would be nice to accompany this with a post.

The past

Spacelabs was founded to create something that sits in between research and consumer appliances. Since we are associated to the Electro-Optical Communication group these things often had to do with bandwidth. For example, showing the ease of use of plastic optical fiber or participate in GPRS/UMTS trials. However, due to the loose structure of Spacelabs, we ventured into many other projects of our own such a information system-enabled fridge with a barcode reader, a dynamic DNS system, etc. At some point we got our own Internet connection with an accompanying subnet. It has been fun and rewarding to learn how to setup and run a mini ISP.

Spacelabs doesn’t have any formal structure: when you are on the mailing list, you are a member. There are no regular meetings, no hierarchy, no obligations. So in some ways, we are a group that is much like a free/open source software community. I think that this approach has provided us the drive to work both on projects during our free time as well as our own ideas.

I feel that Spacelabs has contributed so much to my life. It might not be the typical study association, but it was a big supplement to my studies, it was fun and it was completely ours. Not only did it teach me many, many technical things—from networks to program languages to software design—but it also gave me experiences on other levels, such as very attuned group work and responsibilities for key systems.

Spacelabs in 2006

The future

Soon, everyone connected to Spacelabs will have finished their Master’s or PhD (in my case) and nobody will be left to continue the project. Although this is a bit sad, I think we can be proud of what we have accomplished, learnt and experienced. I will miss our location high in the “Potentiaal/E-hoog” building overlooking Eindhoven, and our being together as a group. We are however not gone yet, there is still a lot to plan and to work on if we want to rescue the huge amount of servers and services that we have accumulated over the years if we were to leave…

1 Yes, the website is very much from the past.