Will Asgardia be the First Space Nation?

Proposal for an off-world nation faces myriad technological and legal hurdles.

An independent nation in space? Asguardia aims ot tbe the first. (Image courtesy of Asgardia.)

An independent nation in space? Asguardia aims to be the first. (Image courtesy of Asgardia.)

At a recent press conference in Paris, researchers and dreamers announced plans for Asgardia, the first nation that will exist in space.

The idea, delivered by the Aerospace International Research Center (AIRC) is to create an off world habitat free from the petty squabbles that keep terrestrial nation states from working toward the betterment of humanity.

To that end, project leader Igor Ashurbeyli, a self-described “life-long maverick” explained that one of Asgardia’s biggest goals is to be a utopian re-imagination of human social and cultural configuration.

“Asgardia’s philosophical envelope is to ‘digitalize’ the Noosphere, creating a mirror of humanity in space but without Earthly division into states, religions and nations,” said Ashurbeyli. “In Asgardia we are all just Earthlings!”

At the moment, Asguadia’s physical embodiment is still a mystery. Ashurbeyli has said that Asgardia might be best realized as a series of central satellites (presumably similar but larger than the ISS) complemented by smaller networked stations. All of these components would be protected from space debris and other harmful cosmic nasties by a larger “space platform”.

Unflinchingly vague, Ashurbeyli’s plan for Asgardia isn’t sweating the details. In fact, as part of his presentation Ashurbeyli stated, “We are not going to talk about technical aspects and details today. It is not because we have nothing to say. It is because we want the widest participation in this open project – participation from all interested scientists and companies, without limiting them by our own vision of the technological side of things at the moment.”

Technical hurdles aside, the concept of Asgardia likely violates many international treaties governing the use, colonization or claims to sovereignty in space. Ashurbeyli doesn’t shy away from that obstacle either, claiming that Asgadia would be an ideal platform for rethinking the entire legal framework that governs space.

“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.” Ashurbeyli mused. “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.”

The solution?

“Asgardia’s legal envelope includes the creation of a new legal platform for the exploration of near-Earth and deep space. ‘Universal space law’ and ‘astropolitics’ have to replace international space law and geopolitics,” said the starry-eyed doctor.

In all likelihood, Asgardia won’t get very far beyond its initial planning phase, or even its press conference publicity stunt. However, challenging what it means to be a civilization that has access to, or is on the verge of developing, the technologies that could make a space-based nation possible is certainly appealing to me.

Though it may be fanciful and unrealistic, I imagine the same ideas appeal to many of you as well.

For a slightly more grounded story about the future of space habitation, find out how Elon Musk plans to take humans to Mars and beyond.