Ambitious plans to create the world’s first nation in space were unveiled this week in the hopes of ushering in a new era in the space age. Igor Ashurbeyli, head of the Aerospace International Research Center (AIRC) in Vienna and chairman of UNESCO’s science of space committee heads the initiative in close collaboration with a group of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and legal experts.
Asgardia, named after a city in Norse mythology, will essentially function as its own sovereign country where citizens can eventually live, work, and follow their own rules and regulations — that is, if everything goes according to plan. Ashurbeyli hopes to secure UN recognition for Asgardia, a nation of scientific exploration free of geopolitical restrictions, but no word yet on whether that will actually happen.
Besides joining the UN, the founders’ ultimate goal is to build a high-tech shield in space that will protect their fellow humans on Earth from “cosmic, manmade and natural threats … such as space debris, coronal mass ejections and asteroid collisions.” The first step, however, is to send up its own satellite in 2017 and begin efforts to open up access to space.
The project is still in its early stages, but the team behind it is hoping that the publicity it gathers now will attract talent willing to work on making Asgardia a reality. That talent can be anyone, as Asgardia has opened citizenship up for everyone on Earth, but what does being part of this nation mean?
Basically, Asgardians will remain physically on Earth, but also become a citizen of this new space nation, which the founders hope will one day join the United Nations. Eventually, those citizens could travel to the space nation.
“We have not seen any nation attempt this before. So this will be a first,” Ram Jakhu, an Asgardia founding member, told Business Insider. “We’ll start small and eventually people will be going there, and working, and having their own rules and regulations … This facility will become an independent nation.”
Details regarding the feasibility of this audacious plan are vague. No clarifications have been made on whether or not current space laws would allow for a country to declare itself as an autonomous, sovereign entity in space. Similarly, technical details, logistics, and funding on the project have not been detailed, but the project does bring up important questions about how space colonization should be handled in the future.