Letter from the CEO

Hello everyone!

Alex/Sindri here, on behalf of the Cosmographic Software team.

Today, we have something a bit different: it's our first anniversary as a company!

Since this only happens once, we'll be talking a bit about what's happened over the past year, where things are going, putting some common questions to rest, and introducing our community to the new members of our team!


2022-2023 and Where Things Are Now

Let's start with a recap of 2022, since much of it went on behind the scenes.

Obviously this was a difficult year, with a lot of complexity: Vladimir was stuck in Russia, with family in Ukraine; and the main programmer working on the General Relativity update (Michael Moroz) was in Kyiv.

We also needed to build the company, and there was a lot of pressure to get things running: it was very much like building an airplane mid-flight. Fortunately, we had fantastic luck finding the right people, and things fell into place along the way.

One of the biggest challenges starting out was creating a culture that worked for the existing team, and also defined what we wanted the company to be going forward: culture and people are everything, and, again, we were very fortunate in that respect.

Updates and improvements continued through 2022, including the 4k/Scalable UI update, and the epic General Relativity update in December.

We also had the opportunity to team up with the awesome folks at Giant Army (Universe Sandbox) in a Steam bundle, and took part in some great collaborative discussions. We’re still keeping in touch with their team, and I think it’s safe to say that working together on some future project down the road is definitely not out of the question!

Roadmapping and project management was another major challenge. There is a very large difference between a largely "one-person" project which grows organically, and something which is divided into tasks on a timeline and coordinated between multiple coders.

While we still don't have a public roadmap, we're much further along than where we were last year. We have a much better understanding of goals and expectations into 2023 and beyond.

After giving the team a solid break over the holidays, we came back refreshed this year with a solid direction for where things are going. While we aren't ready to release all of the information about our plans just yet, we can at least discuss our current plans in a bit more detail, and provide you with some expectations for the next year.

On a related note: we intend to be more communicative in the future, and engage with our community through additional blog posts. We'd been working on this last year (particularly on social media), and aim to continue improving on this going forward.

A lot of 2022 was spent getting things set up, and trying to work around the issues thrown at us by events beyond our control; but in the end, we managed to accomplish everything we had set out to do, and ended the year in a great position to start new projects in 2023!


As you've probably guessed, development continues, and we have no intention of stopping anytime soon—if anything, we're accelerating development. We're planning to add several new members to the team over the coming months, primarily to work on the code.

In terms of updates, there's a lot happening right now behind the scenes.

One major project is a full refactoring of the code, bringing things to industry standards, and migrating from OpenGL to Vulkan API. This also includes side-projects such as debug and error reporting tools which will help us better identify and address both new and existing issues.

The good news is that these changes will make development significantly easier, since things will be both standardized and more efficient, and it will enable new coders to more easily work with the existing code (and subsequently add to it!). The downsides are that many of the changes and optimizations will be "unseen", and that while this process is taking place, various parts of the code will have to be "locked out" from modification. We expect this to take up a large portion of the year, but are currently in the process of hiring additional coders to help expedite the process.

Apart from this, we also have several other projects which will have more "obvious" effects. 

You'll see some changes coming to planets before the end of Q1 2023. A rework of generation systems is also planned. and we aim to (finally) tackle shadows. We would like to also get clouds done, but as the team is still small (and growing), we're approaching things one at a time. We don't want to overcommit, or put undue pressure on our people; but we can safely say that many improvements and additions planned, and development is currently on schedule.

We’re also taking an aim at improving communication with our community, including additional infrastructure for support (much of which will be behind the scenes), more frequent blog posts, and continued updates and engagement across social media and Reddit.

Questions Regarding Vladimir

Over this past year, a lot of questions have come up about Vladimir, so I'll take a minute to answer the most common ones as best I can:


Q: Is Vladimir still involved in the project? What is his role?

A: Yes! SpaceEngine is still Vladimir's project, but as of March 3rd 2022, he has also been the primary and majority owner of Cosmographic Software LLC. He still has direct control over development of the software: the rest of us are just helping to fulfill his vision.


Q: Is Vladimir still developing SpaceEngine?

A: Heavily related to the last, this is another "yes" – he is actively coding, fixing bugs, and providing direction. SpaceEngine is still his project; there are just more people involved now.


Q: Do you in any way support what's happening in Ukraine? Why aren't you more vocal about this?

A: To the first, vehemently "No."

We are a US company, and are not affiliated with Russia.

We have no connection with the Russian government or military, and do not in any way endorse the actions or statements of either entity (including from a lack of condemnation – more on that below).

As to the last part, this was (at least partially) my fault. Keeping Vladimir, his family, and members of the team safe has been a top priority, and being outspoken about that particular topic was (and to some extent still remains) likely to act in contravention of that priority.

If you look closely in certain places (for example, our official Discord server), you'll see exactly where things stand. It's been a massive headache, and we really would love to be more vocal about it, but for the moment, this will have to wait.


What about the rest of the SpaceEngine team?

They’re still here!

Sean (HarbingerDawn) and Doc were instrumental in setting up the company, and both remain active.
Doc continues to manage the Discord server, while Sean oversees financials and, until recently, was also leading support. 

Several people have worked on SpaceEngine behind the scenes in the past, and most of them are still around in some capacity, brainstorming ideas and bringing forward suggestions for how best to accomplish the long list of features we’d like to include.


Today is a special day for me personally, as it also marks my own anniversary with the company!

This time last year, I (Alexander Long - Alex/Sindri) had the honor of being Cosmographic Software's first official hire, being entrusted (among many other things!) with subsequent hires, and establishing a direction for the company.

As you might imagine, things were pretty crazy back then, and a lot has happened since.

Officially, I serve as the company's chief executive, but since we're still very small, my role is a bit more broad and nebulous. I'd probably define my job as "making sure that Vladimir's vision for SpaceEngine is realized as accurately and efficiently as possible"—which includes managing both short and long term strategy, cultivating company culture, overseeing and strategizing business development, managing daily operations/acting as project manager, researching and applying marketing strategy, and hiring/HR (fun fact: I personally read every single application and conduct every interview!).

Put another way: I make plans based on Vladimir's vision, hire the right people for that plan, then make sure they have the best environment and tools to support them. I want to take this opportunity to say that I am incredibly honored and privileged to know and work with such extremely talented and creative people.

My background is solidly in leadership, with over two decades in management. I have experience running multiple businesses, and have worked extensively in product and project management, community management, and customer service settings. Over the years, I've also been a perfumer, a blacksmith, a high school teacher, a soldier, and a professional musician. I studied history at Dalhousie University and the University of King's College (BA, '20), with a strong concentration in the history of science and technology.

When I'm not running the company (which takes up almost all of my time, including my "time off") I'm likely either practicing Kendo, or cuddling with my adorable pet pig, Snuggles.

Now that you have a bit of context for who I am, and what's going on with this post, I'm very pleased to (finally) introduce you to the rest of the amazing folks we've brought on as regular staff since this time last year!

The Team

Katie Ingram (Media & Communications Manager)

Katie Ingram is the media and communications manager at Cosmographic Software. She's been working in media (in a variety of roles) for over a decade. Even though it's been almost 20 years, she's still mad Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet.


Massimo Sabbadin (QA tester)

Massimo Sabbadin started studying Biology but things happen, and he's been in IT since 1999. What was initially a hobby became his main occupation as system administrator, then PC shop owner, then IT consultant. Interested in astronomy and science since childhood, had his mind blown away in 2014 when looking for a program using procedural generation and found out about SpaceEngine, so he had to help the SE community in order to regain his own sanity.

Some engineer decided to call him "Mosfet" back in university years, and now he's stuck with the nickname.

He lives in Italy, where you can find him sometimes practicing Tai Chi or reading science fiction when he's not in front of a computer.


Peter Ohlmann (Senior Programmer)

Peter Ohlmann began his journey in the gaming industry in 1994, fueled by his passion for crafting virtual game worlds. He devoted much of his time to programming game engines on various platforms, enhancing his expertise in low-level cross-platform development. As an ardent supporter of the Vulkan API, Peter is now fully committed to transitioning SpaceEngine from OpenGL to a cutting-edge GPU-driven framework based on Vulkan.


Dr. Megan Tannock, PhD (Programmer)

Dr. Megan Tannock is a programmer and science expert at Cosmographic Software. She has been a professional astronomer for over a decade and has worked at a variety of astronomy institutions including Gemini Observatory and the Canada France Hawaii Telescope. Megan obtained her PhD in astronomy in 2021 and her thesis was on understanding the atmospheric compositions and weather of sub-stellar objects called brown dwarfs. Megan is excited to contribute to the scientific accuracy of SpaceEngine and loves seeing SpaceEngine used as a science communication tool to teach about space. Megan resides in Canada, loves hiking with her dog, and her favorite planet is Jupiter.


Sohue (Texture Artist)

Sohue (Kexitt) is a programmer and texture artist working with Cosmographic Software. He started making a galaxy addon for SpaceEngine as a child, eventually working on galaxy and planetary textures for the Steam release. Sohue currently works on improving sprite models.


Mike Petry (Support Lead)

Mike Petry is an avid gamer with an extensive background in support, having led teams of all sizes in both traditional customer service roles, and within various gaming communities. Mike is the most recent addition to the team as of March 2023, and will be working closely with Sean (HarbingerDawn) to improve support.


On behalf of Vova and the team at Cosmographic Software, thank you all again for your continued support, and for being part of our community!

2022 was a year filled with “ups” and “downs”, and we had the opportunity to learn a lot along the way.
We’re looking forward to what will come in 2023 and beyond, and are excited for what the future holds!


Alexander T. Long
Chief Executive Officer