Scientists and astronomers today revealed plans to set up a new nation in space – with its own flag, anthem and laws – called Asgardia.
Anyone can apply to be a citizen in the cosmic country, which will be based around one or more satellites orbiting Earth.
All you need to do is visit the project website – asgardia.com – and fill out your email address, name and nationality. Within hours of the project announcement, more than 1000 people had signed up. Citizens of Asgardia have dual nationality with their Earth-bound country.
The idea has been proposed by Dr Igor Ashurbeyli of the Vienna-based Aerospace International Research Centre. Ashurbeyli is a Russian nano-scientist and businessman who was recently appointed chairman of Unesco’s Science in Space committee.
At a press conference in Paris, Ashurbeyli and his team revealed their plans to act as “guardians of the Earth.”
The new state “will offer an independent platform free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws. It will become a place it in orbit which is truly ‘no man’s land’.”
Initially, this new nation will consist of a single satellite, scheduled to be launched next year, with its citizens residing firmly on terra firma.
Ashurbeyli said: “Physically the citizens of that nation state will be on Earth; they will be living in different countries on Earth, so they will be a citizen of their own country and at the same time they will be citizens of Asgardia.”
“When the number of those applications goes above 100,000 we can officially apply to the UN for the status of a state.”
Asked why people should register to become citizens of Asgardia, Ashurbeyli said: “I do believe that as soon as this country becomes a part of the UN family, citizenship of that country will be really quite prestigious.”
His team also says one of the early plans is to create “a state-of-the-art protective shield for all humankind from cosmic, manmade and natural threats to life on earth.” Such threats, they say, include the dangers posed by space junk and asteroids.
At present, international space law is governed by the Outer Space Treaty, drawn up in the 1960s and reflecting the world political landscape of that time.
“The existing state agencies represent interests of their own countries and there are not so many countries in the world that have those space agencies,” said Ashurbeyli.
“The ultimate aim is to create a legal platform to ensure protection of planet Earth and to provide access to space technologies for those who do not have that access at the moment.”
Christopher Newman, an expert in space law at the University of Sunderland, UK, said it was not clear how Asgardia would fit into current international regulations.
The project faced significant hurdles from getting UN recognition to issues around liability.
“It is an exciting development in many ways because it will be interesting to see how this goes,” said Newman. “But there are formidable obstacles in international space law for them to overcome. What they are actually advocating is a complete re-visitation of the current space law framework.”