Space Nation enlists NASA’s help with astronaut training app

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SAN FRANCISCO — Space Nation, the Finnish startup, announced plans Sept. 6 to work with NASA under a Space Act Agreement to refine the contents of the astronaut training smartphone application it plans to release in February.

“We can use NASA’s expertise to make the experience better,” Kalle Vähä-Jaakkola, Space Nation captain and co-founder, said by email. “This affects all parts of the app. We aim to engage and inspire large audiences by bringing NASA expertise to the fingertips of people worldwide.”

Through the Space Nation Astronaut Experience Program, the company plans to invite anyone with a smartphone to work on skills like teamwork and problem-solving while tackling a series of physical and mental challenges. Top competitors will be eligible to attend a training boot camp under the supervision of experienced astronauts. Space Nation plans to send one of the competitors on a commercial suborbital flight.

People who do not want to train for spaceflight will be able to participate in Space Nation by taking part in various games and challenges or by watching a documentary series about the Space Nation astronaut candidates, according to the Sept. 6 announcement.

In May, Space Nation announced plans to send experiments to the International Space Station and its membership in the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization.

Space Nation’s partners include Michael Suffredini, Axiom Space president and chief executive; John Barbera, former president of Turner Broadcasting Sales & 24/7 Realmedia; and Peter Vesterbacka, former Mighty Eagle at Rovio Entertainment, the creator of Angry Birds.