The stars are not the limit
When I started this journey with my old friend Kalle Vähä-Jaakkola, the CEO of Space Nation, we encountered a lot of disbelief. Partly because nothing like this had ever been done before. Partly because we’re from Finland, a tiny country that doesn’t even have a space program. And partly because we weren’t afraid to dream big. We wanted to train ordinary people to become astronauts – and eventually send one person to space. We wanted this to be a global phenomenon… and neither of us had any background in the space industry…and we’re not rich!
Chasing the dream
Looking back I can see why some people had their doubts. However, what they didn’t understand was just how determined Kalle and I were to bring our vision to life. We both share the same lifelong dream; this dream has driven everything we’ve done the last few years. Our total belief in Space Nation was and continues to be enough to overcome any obstacles along the way.
Crystallizing the vision
My personal dreams have always been about discovery and the wonder of space. I want to know what is up there. To feel the weightlessness. And to be able to explore other planets. Those are my dreams. But you need more than dreams to turn your vision into reality.
Entertainment with a purpose
During the late ‘80s, when I was very young, my family and I lived in Turkey as asylum seekers. For four years I did not have the possibility to attend school. All I did was watch TV and movies. Most of what I saw left no impact on my young imagination; it was simply a momentary distraction. Later on, when I graduated from university as a film director, I knew I wanted to make programs with inherent added value. Programs that could teach the audience something new while keeping them entertained.
I discovered an article claiming that World of Warcraft has been played for a longer period of time than modern humans have spent on the Earth (that’s adding the total time every player has spent playing the game). I asked myself: What if we could make fun games that teach people new and important stuff? Could games actually enrich players’ lives? Space Nation was born when Kalle and I began to try to answer these questions.
Building the team
I don’t believe in luck, but meeting Kalle really was a gift. We shared the same values and dreams right from the start. There are two qualities that it’s essential to have when you’re planning something on the scale of Space Nation – respect for your colleagues, and complete faith in their ability. As co-founders of the company, these attributes were the foundation of our partnership.
The beginning was far from easy . My first daughter was less than a year old. I had quit my job and was reliant on the support of my loved ones. Both Kalle and I worked full-time with no salary. When we pitched the project, we were faced with skeptical and occasionally amused crowds. The more rejection we underwent, the more determined we became. Fortunately we also met people who believed in our project and joined our team. Our vision started to take concrete form. We carried on pitching to as many people as we could, and learnt from the feedback.
Then came our first angel investors. They are aptly named – without them this project wouldn’t have happened. Kalle moved to the US and began building the crucial connections with the space industry. At the same time myself and the rest of the team stayed in our Helsinki base and worked around the clock developing Space Nation’s astronaut training program.
Shaping the future with Space Nation
We’ve made our fair share of mistakes during the past years. And we’ve come to accept that this is an inevitable part of the journey. After all, without mistakes you don’t learn. Those mistakes have played an integral role in shaping us into the solid team that we are today – a team that I’m proud to be a part of!
A wise person once told me that you don’t remain passive and let the present define the future – you make the future. And that’s what we do each and every day at Space Nation.
Mazdak Nassir, co-founder of Space Nation