Instead of spending years earning an advanced degree or spending millions to buy a seat on a rocket, armchair astronauts will soon have the chance to win a ride into space by downloading a smartphone app.
The Cohu Experience, a crowd-funded Finnish startup devoted to advertising the growing commercial space economy, plans to launch the Space Nation Astronaut Training Program smartphone app later this year to choose its first citizen astronaut.
By downloading Space Nation, users worldwide will have a chance to compete in varying tests of mental, social, and physical skill to earn a spot in the top 100 competitors vying for a ride into space, CEO Kalle Vaha-Jaakkola told SpaceNews.
“We want it to be inclusive so anyone in the world can be a part. We want to find those Slumdog astronauts.”
The Space Nation app gives contestants the ability to create groups and teams of supporters who back the best competitors and most active users.
From the worldwide pool of users, the top 100 Space Nation contestants who earn the most points will join a select group of 30 other competitors chosen by corporate sponsors to compete in an intensive two-week astronaut training boot camp in early 2018.
From that field of 130, a group of 12 will be chosen to undergo another 12 weeks of rigorous astronaut training and from that group one lucky contestant will be chosen to ride a commercial suborbital flight into space in 2018.
In the coming years, the Cohu Experience plans to launch other contestants into low Earth orbit with at least one armchair astronaut being chosen every year.
Although the astronaut training location hasn’t been announced yet, rumors are circulating it could be in Houston, home to Axiom Space, because the company is responsible for the company’s astronaut training.
Similar to MarsOne, the Cohu Experience will be distributed through social media websites and on television in an effort to raise awareness of the growing space-based economy and generate funds.
The startup company managed to raise more than $2.3 million in a crowd-funding effort on the website www.around.fi launched Feb. 2 including a whopping $1 million donated to the company in the first 43 minutes.
Before the crowd-funding effort, the company raised $1.8 million, and if it can reach its overall goal of $6.4 million, it will receive an additional $3 million from the Finnish Innovation Fund, CEO Vaha-Jaakkola told BwDisrupt.
“We are building an international community centered around commercial space travel and exploration. Using private funding and making the investment opportunity available to everyone nationally and internationally comes as a no-brainer to us.”
The Cohu Experience is ranked No. 1 of Ten European Growth Business to Watch in 2017 by Forbes and has drawn a number of renowned advisors including Michael Suffredini, the former director of the International Space Station.
Space Nation is also backed by Axiom Space, a company that wants to use old ISS parts to build a private space station when the orbital lab is defunded in 2024, along with Edge of Space, a startup dedicated to making space affordable to schools, according to the company website.
“For people, Space Nation is a gateway to space, for brands it’s a gateway to audiences.”
They aren’t the first company to launch a public competition to raise awareness of the growing space-based economy. The Google Lunar X prize was launched in 2007 with prizes totaling $30 million for the first company to land a private robot on the moon that can travel 1,640 feet and send back video and images. There are now five companies that have confirmed launch contracts for 2017.
Will you download the Space Nation app and compete for a free ride into space?
[Featured Image by NASA/Getty Images]