Deborah Sass and Thomas Reemer of Space Hero: How We Aim To Give Ordinary People a Shot at Space Travel

Alexandra Spirer
Feb 11 · 9 min read

…Absolutely. Support your national space agency, support Space Hero, and let’s make a plan together. The “Overview effect” that space travelers experience, proves one thing: we need to be truly agnostic, we need to reach across borders, because global challenges need global solutions.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah Sass and Thomas Reemer.

Deborah was born and raised in London, with an Indian Jazz musician father and a British model mother, Deborah experienced growing up in the challenging environment of the 70ies and 80ies in England, embattled by poverty and racism.

Deborah started her media career working in advertising, radio and TV in Perth, Australia, then back in London soon after. She then moved her career to the digital music and film industry, first at Muze, then as an SVP at Macrovision, overseeing all their European Business. Moving to Los Angeles in 2007 she helped set up a digital entertainment consultancy practice and became a passionate champion for all things digital & entertainment. By 2014, now an experienced executive with a global outlook and a strong focus on tech, entertainment & raising money, she understood that there is more to happiness than success in business and first moved to Bali, then 2 years later to Ibiza, which she now calls home.

In 2016 Deborah was contacted by a colleague of many years, Thomas Reemer, to restart a venture he had created in 2008 called Space Hero. The cooperation proved to be successful and the venture took off in an incredible way. For two years both founders traveled to meet with the global space industry. The venture is now on a path to becoming an impactful global project.

Deborah lives on a farm with her two beautiful jack russell’s, affectionately called Buzz & Armstrong and grows her own vegetables. She enjoys a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Born and raised in East Berlin, Thomas was only 18 when the wall came down. Both his parents were diplomats working for the East German government, they raised the family with a communist mindset.

Thomas launched his first successful business, a hip-hop nightclub in his old neighborhood, right after he finished studying history and politics at the Free University in Berlin. He went on to manage a pop band racking up 4 #1 hits in Germany.

By the late 90’s his thirst for knowledge took him and his young family to Liverpool, where he studied at the auspicious Music Business School set up by Sir Paul McCartney. From managing a club, then a band to starting Artists First, the first ecommerce site for independent artists, Thomas was fast establishing himself as a passionate & driven international music tech entrepreneur.

Space Hero was born in 2008. Thomas spent several years fleshing out the idea & raising money. The first iteration had to be shelved, because seats to the ISS were unavailable for private missions. Thomas next business venture took him to China, where he grew a successful ecommerce platform for music, apps and games.

In 2016 Thomas contacted his colleague of many years, Deborah Sass, to restart Space Hero. The cooperation proved to be successful and the venture took off in an incredible way. For two years both founders travelled to meet with the global space industry. The venture is now on a path to becoming an impactful global project.

An avid reader, Thomas now lives between the city & a farm outside of Berlin with his brilliant partner and the occasional drop in from his grown-up children.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

Deborah Sass: I grew up in the English version of the projects, a council estate in West London. My father was working for an insurance company and was a Jazz musician, my mother a model and a shop assistant. We were very poor, but I really didn’t know this as we had a happy, drama-free childhood. My sister, who`s 22 months younger than me, remains very close to me to this day. My baby brother was born 11 years after me, and my mother was having twins at the time — she lost one, but my brother survived. A month before he was born, we immigrated to Perth, Australia where we all entered into local schools and finished high school. Perth is a brilliant city to raise a young family — we loved the outdoors, and it is a very safe city.

Thomas Reemer: I learned capitalism the hard way — when the wall came down in 1989, I was 18 and had just finished school in East Berlin. My whole family were believers in communism in the best sense, true idealists. At the time, I couldn’t care less and dove head first into all that a reunited Berlin had to offer in the 1990s. I became the black sheep, embracing entrepreneurialism and the music industry in all its glory. Fifteen years later, my father understood for the first time, when Sir Paul McCartney gave me the first Young Presidents Award at LIPA, where I had studied. Nothing in my life has ever been normal — trying to make money with your own creativity, while taking care of a young family — and yes, it also had to always be international straight away [laughs].

You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

Deborah Sass: We want to use the mobile phone and its capabilities to create a meaningful global conversation on a global platform, forming a strong global voice through Space Hero. We are citizens of the world, and thus always put globalism first.

Thomas Reemer: Through Space Hero, we have discovered that having a purpose creates impact, which generates profit. We call it “PIP” — Purpose, Impact, Profit. In that order, our system makes tremendous sense.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Deborah Sass: It’s a realization, isn’t it? You can’t escape the facts, you receive information from all over the world and beyond. When Thomas called me, I immediately was intrigued by his plan to combine entertainment with a serious vision. We both knew, intrinsically, that space is a global conversation, and we should use it to talk about us, the inhabitants of planet Earth.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Thomas Reemer: I had done years of foundational work, wrote a business plan, and perfected the concept. I looked at it, finally understanding the global impact, and frankly asked myself, “why me?” The realization that we are all mere messengers was the epiphany here. That moment was so liberating that I called Debs to ask her to do this together, because messengers have no ego.

Many people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

Deborah Sass: What do you need to sell lemonade? It’s essentially always the same. Create the product, study the market, establish a sales pipeline. All the while convincing your mother and the person next to you on the bus that your idea is brilliant. Keep that up until more and more people believe in you and the product, because these believers become your team. Repeat as needed.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Thomas Reemer: How about seeing the production of Soyuz, Dragon and Starliner in one week? In July 2019, we went to see a rocket launch in Russia’s Far East, crossed the border into China — I got to show Debs around my former home Beijing — then flew to the US to visit the rocket fabs of SpaceX and Boeing, and communicated with astronauts on the ISS from mission control in Houston.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

Deborah Sass: We were invited to present at the Montgomery Summit in LA a year ago. I did an interview for their YouTube channel and got so excited that I mixed up all the facts and said things that were exaggerated. Stay cool under pressure, and get your facts right, people!

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Deborah Sass: Prof Chris Welch said to us, a student could have written a better paper after he had seen our first written efforts. He then became our closest advisor, because we convinced him by writing a much better paper and improving.

Thomas Reemer: Our chairman, Marty Pompadour, committed to Space Hero within the first 30’ meeting we ever had. Marty sends an email to the president of (name a country or company), and this person answers within minutes.

Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Deborah Sass: Absolutely. Support your national space agency, support Space Hero, and let’s make a plan together. The “Overview effect” that space travelers experience, proves one thing: we need to be truly agnostic, we need to reach across borders, because global challenges need global solutions.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

Thomas Reemer: Since the pandemic started, business travel has virtually disappeared. We have saved a lot of money in the past year just by doing video conferences all day, every day — not to mention the reduced carbon footprint. In the future, we will try to do one long-haul every quarter only.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Deborah Sass: We have no regrets. There is nothing about our lives and careers that should be different, because everything is a sum of mistakes and decisions.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Thomas Reemer: Ask yourself how you want to live. If your answer includes words like peaceful, healthy and meaningful, then you understand what your impact needs to be. Global challenges need global solutions, and that requires all of our input.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Deborah Sass: “Why be ordinary, if you can be extraordinary?” We have striven for this from an early age — Thomas to escape a limiting political system, me to escape a limiting social system.

Thomas Reemer: “Everything is a result of something.” Never blame anyone but yourself for how you are doing, in your private life, but also professionally. Debs and I subscribe to this religiously.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Deborah Sass: Lunch with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezoz, no question…

Thomas Reemer: …and together, of course.

How can our readers follow you online?

Deborah Sass: Watch out for an announcement in April around the 60th anniversary of the first human to space.

Thomas Reemer: Space Hero passes the baton from the professionals who have risked their lives to create a safe path for us to travel on.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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