Asgardia, or the Space Kingdom of Asgardia, is the first space nation, and it’s touting itself as an independent sovereign state (although not yet officially recognised), that is trans-ethnic and secular, with a constitution similar to that of most states. It’s governed by rules of fairness, equality, and peace and was founded in 2016. Just 2 years later, it has a constitution, flag, coat of arms, and a Head of Nation, Ogor Ashurbeyli, a Russian scientist.
Asgardia was created with three main purposes. Firstly, it is intended to protect Earth from space threats like asteroids, solar storms or space debris by creating a protective shield around the entire planet. Secondly it serves to create a free base of scientific knowledge, and thirdly, it wants to promote the use of space without being restricted by existing nations.
In the long term, Asgardia will build and launch platforms known as space arks suitable for human and plant life in space, with the objective being to preserve our life and that of other animals from earth. Who knows, in time to come these arks may even become advanced enough to host the world’s first interstellar casino!
How Has Asgardia Been Funded?
To date, a substantial portion of the funding for Asgardia has been given by Ashurbeyli himself, and the state’s website has a section for donations. This year the nation has also launched the Future of Finance and Economics Competition. The winner of the competition, which is open to anyone, will receive $10 000 in prize money.
The purpose of the competition is to establish an Asgadian economy, the focus of which will be on open source software, decentralised systems similar to blockchain, fault tolerant/secure architecture, and cryptocurrency.
Governance of the Space Ark
At present, Asgardia has 185 000 registered citizens, and to apply you simply need to fill in a form on their website. They are currently accepting nominations for their members of parliament, with the final vote taking place in April or May this year.
Anyone may nominate himself or herself, making their electoral page look a bit like a social media campaign gone awry.
Seats in parliament will be awarded per electoral district based on how many citizens are in that district. There are 150 seats available and 13 districts based on language, that need to be represented.
Once applied and accepted as a citizen of Asgardia, citizens have the right to submit a digital file to Asgardia-1; the satellite that launched last year, which is the Asgardia territory. Once the parliamentary members have been voted in and governance finalised, citizens will receive official documentation, such as identity documents, which will allow holders to participate in and receive any services provided by Asgardia.
Asgardia and the UN
Asgardia is not the first time that an attempt has been made to start a sovereign state in space. The first attempt was made by James Mangan in 1949 but failed. So, what makes this attempt different?
Well to start with, the Asgardia-1 satellite, which is considered an Asgardian territory, means it has a space presence. As far as the United Nations is concerned, to be considered an independent state there are four criteria that need to be fulfilled, of which Asgardia already fulfils three.
- Citizens – Asgardia currently has 185 000 registered citizens
- A Government – The Parliamentary members are currently being nominated and will be voted in this year
- A Territory – Their spacecraft
Although the United Nations itself cannot authorise the creation of a state or government, its acceptance of a state as a member is a big step in Asgardia being recognised, because a two-thirds majority vote is required from its members.
That means that at least 63 member countries will have recognised Asgardia as an independent state. This is unlikely, as at present, space law dictates that no single entity can claim ownership of space, unless it has an inhabited territory in space. At this stage Asgardia-1 is simply an uninhabited storage device.
The future space ark plans may change things a bit, after all, which country has the right to tell a free citizen that they may not live on, and by the law of, a spacecraft?