A proposal for the world's first 'Space Nation' has been launched with the aim of delivering a framework for the ownership of space, uniting mankind in the process. The space nation has been dubbed Asgardia, the city from Norse Mythology ruled by Odin from Valhalla.
Plans for Asgardia were announced by an international team of scientists, engineers, legal experts and entrepreneurs led by Russian scientist Igor Ashurbeyli, founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre.
Speaking at a press conference in Paris, he said: "We have decided to create the first ever space nation – this is a global, unifying and humanitarian project. The project's concept comprises three parts – philosophical, legal and scientific/technological. And it's hard to say which of these is more important."
Here is a rundown of the plan:
The name Asgardia was chosen as a reference to mankind's dream to leave Earth and expand into the universe. It would be a fully-fledged independent nation, with plans of becoming a member of the United Nation. It would have a government embassies, a flag etc. The team wants space to serve the whole of humanity in a peaceful way. "The essence of Asgardia is Peace in Space, and the prevention of Earth's conflicts being transferred into space," Ashurbeyli said. "Asgardia's philosophical envelope is to 'digitalise' the Noosphere, creating a mirror of humanity in space but without Earthly division into states, religions and nations. In Asgardia we are all just Earthlings."
They want to make sure "geopolitical squabbles" on Earth do not move into space. Deep-rooted problems between nations on Earth would have no place in Asgarida. Instead they hope to create a "new judicial reality" – or "astropolitics" where no country can lay claim to space, such as for mining purposes. With only 20 countries on Earth having a space presence, Asgardia's founders believe space laws must protect the interests of all humans, regardless of where they were born.
"It means protecting individuals and countries (particularly developing nations) from space threats as well as delivering the benefits of using space for creating new goods and services, and financial resources," Ashurbeyli said, adding the space nation would not interfere with relations between states on Earth at all.
This component of the framework is broken down into peace, access and protection. It stipulates all activities in space must be peaceful. It should focus on protecting Earth from threats like asteroids, solar flares and cosmic radiation, among others. Finally it should expand access to scientific research, providing all people on Earth a "demilitarised and free scientific base of knowledge in space".
As well as launching the concept of the space nation, Ashurbeyli announced plans to launch the first Asgarida satellite in autumn next year – coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. The satellite will be independent of any current nation state on Earth. Further details on the technical aspects were not announced.
Funding for Asgardia is coming from the team's personal, private funds as well crowdfunding and private donations – and they are open to cooperation with partners and investors. "We are not selling pieces of land on the Moon or water in Antarctica. We're actually not selling anything at all at the moment. Only after we have proven this idea with a confirmed launch of an equipped satellite may we begin talking about Asgardia's budgets," Ashurbeyli said.
The team is, however, asking for people to sign up to become citizens of Asgardia. After the first 100,000 people have registered, applications will be closed until the satellite is launched. People are also invited to submit their ideas for a flag design, the closing date for which is 20 January next year.
Concluding, Ashurbeyli added: "We have now declared our concept and philosophy publicly and would like as many people as possible on the planet to find out about it. Asgardia's technical, legal and philosophical team is in the process of being set up. Is it pioneering, futuristic and visionary – or madness? Call it what you will, and time will tell."