Wednesday, 30 May 2018 00:30

Finnish Space Nation start-up launches former NASA astronaut into chief space officer role


Blasting off into the chief space officer position at Finnish start-up Space Nation is former NASA astronaut Gregory "Box" Johnson, to advise on the Space Nation Astronaut Program and future ISS missions.

Space Nation. It was founded in 2013, and is based in Helsinki, Finland, and bills itself as "pioneering humanity’s transition to the new space era by providing space experiences for global audiences".

The organisation proudly boasts of having "signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA, has its own 'lab space' at the International Space Station and is the first space tourism company to become an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation", so clearly, this is a lot more complicated than mere rocket science.

The organisation even broke the Finnish crowdfunding recording in 2017 by raising the first €1 million in just 43 minutes, and has over 500 private investors!

Now comes Johnson, joining Space Nation as chief space officer, and set "to advise on the further development of the Space Nation Astronaut Program and future missions to the International Space Station where Johnson has been deployed twice".

Space Nation "released the first step of the program, the Space Nation Navigator app, which allows anyone with a smartphone to start their astronaut training, in April 2018".

You can read more of Johnson's impressive career history at Wikipedia here, but we do now know that he "left the Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) in March 2018 where he has been for the last five years, and is an advocate for STEM and science for youth".

"Johnson was the pilot of the Endeavour space shuttle on the STS-123 mission as well as her final flight, mission STS-134.

"In total Johnson spent 32 days in space, including his time at the International Space Station. Johnson holds multiple engineering degrees and an MBA, and is a trained fighter pilot. Before his career at NASA Johnson flew 61 combat missions with the US Air Force during operation Desert Storm.

"Johnson made an appearance in Space Nation's first training in Iceland in May 2018. Influencers got a first hand experience of the Space Nation astronaut training that is awaiting the candidates who will be picked for the Space Nation Astronaut Program.

"During the Iceland astronaut experience the candidates went through physical and mental challenges, solved challenges with the CubeRover, which will be deployed to the moon by Astrobotics in 2020, and executed an extensive search and rescue mission."

Space Nation says its "aim is to make space accessible and relevant for all on Earth, and open up a way for the general public to participate in the new space era".

"Through the Space Nation Navigator mobile app, developed utilising NASA and Axiom Space expertise, anyone can now start training their astronaut skills in the hope of being selected to become a Space Nation astronaut. Space Nation will send the first Space Nation Astronaut to lower orbit next year and then further out every year after that."

Johnson said: "I first heard about Space Nation about 18 months ago and became fascinated by their approach and aim to democratise space.

"I know how that I was extremely fortunate to have been selected astronaut and get the opportunity to fly in space. Going through the astronaut training program has taught me so much and being in space seeing the

"Earth from above is a life changing experience. An experience we hope to be able to share with people on Earth no matter where they are, through the Space Nation Astronaut Program."

Space Nation chief executive and co-founder Kalle Vähä-Jaakkola said: "It is a great asset for Space Nation to get an experienced astronaut like Greg on board our management team. His first hand experience from extensive astronaut training and working on board the International Space Station will be invaluable to us in the development of our programs and new partnerships."

Space Nation Navigator is available for download in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, with more information here. ​​


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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