This month at a press conference in Paris, plans were unveiled for the world’s first “space nation.” A “space nation” is an unrestricted, free society, not ruled by politics or economics, that values humanity with knowledge, intelligence and science. Decisions are purely based on science. Scientists from around the world are able to work together independent and pursue unrestricted research.

Ashurbeyli Asgardia
Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli at the Paris conference

This isn’t science fiction, but reality.

Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli, founder of the Vienna-based Aerospace International Research Center and Chairman of UNESCO’s “Science of Space” committee, is founder of Asgardia Space, the first “space nation.” He says,

The essence of Asgardia is Peace in Space, and the prevention of Earth’s conflicts being transferred into space.

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Asgardia as depicted in the film, Thor

The name Asgardia comes from the Norse mythology where it was a city in the sky ruled by Odin from Valhalla. The new nation’s goal is to create a “new framework and nationhood in space devoid of the restrictions of any government’s control. The project is being led by an international group of scientists and the public is being invited to participate.

The project plans on incorporating space forming nations with emerging economies (like Kenya) who are not part of the existing Outer Space Treaty. The treaty, an international agreement created during the Cold War in 1967, limits all space activity to be led by a nation state. Statistically, only 20 of 200 countries are part of this space law.The Asgardia project disagrees in that it views outer space as free from political boundaries, as belonging to all humankind.

Dr. Ashurbeyli says,

The project’s concept comprises three parts – philosophical, legal and scientific/technological. Asgardia is a fully-fledged and independent nation, and a future member of the United Nations – with all the attributes this status entails.

Professor Ram Jakhu, director of the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, addresses the issues of United Nations membership,

The (Asgardia) vision is very, very clear. This nation will do things to help protect the Earth and, secondly, it will be for exclusively peaceful purposes and also allowing access to developing countries that don’t have that (space access). So, if that is done, recognition will not be a major problem. If these four elements (territory, people, government and recognition) are achieved it will become a state and can apply for its membership in the United Nations.

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Asgardia of the future

As of now, Asgardia hasn’t a physical presence (ie: territory). The goal is to eventually have a space station where citizens can live and work. It does, however have citizens and is seeking 100,000 to start. On its website, over 80,000 earthlings have applied. Applications will be reviewed, with those in the sciences given priority, before passports are distributed. A citizen of any country that allows dual citizenship may apply. The public is also encouraged to enter a competition to design the nation’s flag, insignia and to compose its national anthem. An application is on Asgardia’s website and those applying, it has said, will not be solicited for contributions.

The first step is to take place in 2017 with the launch of Asgardia’s first satellite. The goal is to build a protective shield to protect the earth and humankind from natural and manmade space debris. It is estimated that there are more than 20,000 traceable man-made space junk objects floating around that pose a danger to Earth in addition to solar flares and asteroids on a collision course. So far, the Asgardia project has been privately funded. Eventually, it may be crowdfunded.

Professor David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University in Houston, Texas, says,

As low-Earth orbit becomes more accessible, what’s often called the “democratization” of space, a pathway is opening up to new ideas and approaches from a rich diversity of participants. The mission of Asgardia to create opportunities for broader access to space, enabling non-traditional space nations to realize their scientific aspirations is exciting.

Nancy Loyan Schuemann

Nancy Loyan Schuemann is a writer specializing in architecture, safes, profiles, histories and a multi-published fiction and non-fiction author and is Nailah, Middle Eastern dancer.

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