Democratizing access to space is going to take a lot of work, but Space Nation wants to help with the astronaut training bit of that equation. Now, the startup has announced it will have some help from NASA with that endeavor, thanks to a collaboration agreement that will contribute to Space Nation's Astronaut Experience Program and companion app.
Space Nation's app will provide access to anyone with a smartphone to materials and training programs that are used to prepare actual astronauts for the journey to space. The startup is also planning to follow a few dedicated trainees each year as they vie for one select spot to actually travel to space via Space Nation, with the program officially launched in February 2018.
The company's vision is part "American Idol," part Angry Birds (Rovio founder Peter Vesterbacka is a partner): The app launch in February will lead to a first stage of competition where participants train and demonstrate their astronaut skills using the app, then compete for a spot in a real-life training camp, overseen by actual astronauts. This group will be narrowed to a crop of finalists, and then one winner will be selected to actually travel to space. This journey will be filmed for a resulting documentary.
Space Nation has secured lab space on the ISS, and it has raised funding via crowdsourced funding platforms. The NASA collaboration, made possible via the NASA Space Act Agreements, will mean that Space Nation can offer additional info regarding NASA missions and media via its free app.