Peter Vesterbacka, formerly the "mighty eagle" of Rovio, appeared on-stage at Slush 16 in Helsinki this morning to announce his involvement in Space Nation, an incredibly ambitious program which plans to send ordinary citizens into space.
In a presentation which focused on the need for humanity to unite for common goals rather than the division, squabbling and war which have dominated headlines recently, Vesterbacka was joined by Kalle Vähä-Jaakkola, CEO of Cohu Experience, which founded the Space Nation initiative, and Michael T. Suffredini, a 30 year astronaut veteran who managed the ISS for 10 years.
Not just a space tourism business, Space Nation seems to be aiming to create a new generation of actual, functioning astronauts, with all of the physical and intellectual aptitude that entails.
So it's not quite open to just anyone - potential space walkers will need to endure the harrowing physical conditioning and mental preparation used to prepare people for existing astronautical exploration. The first stage of the selection process takes place via an app, presumably at least partly why Vesterbacka was brought on board.
Available in 2017 on both Android and iOS, the app will pose users challenges to assess physical fitness, mental acuity and social skills. Those who meet certain standards stand a chance of being selected to take part in a formal training program, further winnowing the field down to a lucky few who will taken to space aboard a commercial rocket, with the eventual aim of establishing them on the Axiom Space station, planned as the first commercial permanent orbital station.
Axiom is planned for completion by 2020. Initially it will be attached to the ISS, but detached once the ageing orbital station is decommissioned.