A team of scientists, engineers and lawyers have unveiled a proposal for an independent “space nation” named Asgardia, comprised of satellites to create a “independent platform free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws”.
Named after one of the worlds inhabited by the gods in Norse mythology, the new nation would hopefully be a future member of the United Nations, according to project leader and founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre Dr Igor Ashurbeyli.
Initially, the nation would consist of a single satellite to be launched next year which would comprise the nation itself — rather than being owned by any existing Earthly country.
People can sign up as citizens and would live on Earth in their own countries, being citizens of both their own country and Asgardia.
Dr Ashurbeyli said the project aimed to open up conversations about laws and regulation surrounding space activity, adding: “‘Universal space law’ and ‘astropolitics’ have to replace international space law and geopolitics.”
It also aims to provide a “demilitarised and free scientific base of knowledge in space” and to “protect Earth from space threats”, including asteroids and space junk, by creating a protective shield.
“The essence of Asgardia is peace in space, and the prevention of Earth’s conflicts being transferred into space,” Dr Ashurbeyli told a press conference in Paris.
“Asgardia is also unique from a philosophical aspect — to serve entire humanity and each and every one, regardless of his or her personal welfare and the prosperity of the country where they happened to be born.
“Today, many of the problems relating to space law are unresolved and may never be solved in the complex and contradictory dark woods of modern international law. Geopolitical squabbles have a great influence, and are often rooted in the old military history and unresolvable conflicts of countries on Earth.
“It is time to create a new judicial reality in space.”
Asgardia is currently being funded privately, but will make use of crowd funding and sourcing in the future, Dr Ashurbeyli said.
While the project does not currently include plans to actually send people to live in space aboard the satellites, he told The Guardian Asgardia was “laying the foundations to make that possible in the distant future”.
“Is it pioneering, futuristic and visionary — or madness? Call it what you will, and time will tell,” he said.