Abstract The almost universal availability of electronic connectivity, portable devices, and the web is bringing about a major revolution: information of all kinds is rapidly becoming accessible to everyone, transforming social, economic and cultural life practically everywhere in the world. Internet technologies represent an unprecedented and extraordinary two-way channel of communication between producers and users of data. ”Open Universe” is an initiative proposed to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and currently in implementation under the leadership of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN-OOSA). Its primary objective is to stimulate a dramatic increase in the availability and usability of space science data, extending the potential of scientific discovery to new participants in all parts of the world. This paper describes the initiative in general, some of the activities carried out to demonstrate its feasibility, and its use in the context of the BRICS Astronomy Programme.