Space Kingdom of Asgardia to establish presence in orbit this year
Image credit: Asgardia/James Vaughan
Asgardia – a prospective space-based nation – aims to launch a satellite into orbit this year, its founders announced at a press conference in Hong Kong.
The mission to found the first UN-recognised space-based nation was announced in October 2016. The ambitious project is organised by Asgardia, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation based in Vienna.
In the first 40 hours after Asgardia was announced, more than 100,000 people registered to become Asgardian citizens. Of the half million people who registered overall, 200,000 from 200 countries have been verified.
Now, its organisers are preparing to establish its first presence in space. A satellite approximately the size of a loaf of bread will carry the Asgardian constitution, flag and 512GB of data provided by 1.5 million Asgardian citizens.
The satellite will be constructed by satellite company NanoRacks, and will be launched on an Orbital ATK mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this summer. Once the spacecraft carrying the satellite and other cargo docks at the ISS, the Asgardian satellite will be ejected into orbit.
Although the satellite, Asgardia-1, will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere within five years, Asgardia’s founders hope that the data can be copied to future Asgardian satellites. According to its website, a second launch is planned for 2018.
Prospective Asgardian citizens who agree to abide by the Asgardian constitution will be invited to have a presence on Asgardia-1. They will be given a small amount of space on the satellite to send a photo or text into orbit. According to its founders, this could include pictures of pet cats.
The constitution of Asgardia promises to unite humanity in an ethical, peaceful, apolitical and egalitarian nation: a “country of free spirit, science, technology, humanitarianism, internationalism and universalism”.
Asgardia also aims to mine asteroids and defend Earth from space-based threats such as meteorites. It will have its own calendar with an extra month, Asgard, and three national holidays.
Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian scientist and billionaire, is said to be giving the project considerable financial support. He has been appointed head of state until Asgardian elections can be devised and held.
Ashurbeyli is joined in his efforts by Ram Jakhu, director of the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University.
Although no details are available of plans for Asgardia’s space colonies, it has been suggested that Asgardia will have an orbital space station and a moon presence. Building habitable space stations is an extremely expensive and complex mission, and may prove an insurmountable challenge. The ISS costs approximately $100bn to build – and more to maintain – and took 18 countries many years to build. A permanently habitable space station would be even more costly and ambitious.
Until there are space-based Asgardian residents, it is unlikely that the UN will recognise the Space Kingdom of Asgardia as a nation.