Asgardia. No, we aren’t referring to a place in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok – it’s a space nation. Specifically, it’s a project to launch multiple satellites that will be run by a team of scientists, philosophers, entrepreneurs and – ugh – lawyers that will serve as the world’s first independent “space nation”.
Apart from that, it’s not really clear how Asgardia will function. The satellites cannot be populated by humans, so it’s unclear how they can represent a nation. However, if enough investors pitch in, the team behind the initiative will welcome at least 180,000 people to become members of the nation – but you’ll still be stuck here on Earth. If you’re interested in joining, you can apply here.
Announced in October 2016, we are none the wiser as to if the project is anything more than a philosophical thought experiment. However, a press release sent to journalists dramatically reveals that details of the very first satellite component of Asgardia will launch soon – and that a livestreamed conference explaining the specifics will take place on June 13 of this very year.
If you want to tune in, the show will begin at 03:30 EST, that day. The livestream link can be found here.
Is this exciting? We can’t tell. The press release notes that “Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, one of the world’s most distinguished rocket scientists,” will lead the conference in Hong Kong, as “the international group of leading scientists will take the first tangible step in the foundation of Asgardia.”
They also note that Asgardia will definitely be an independent nation, but it will still be subject to international law. So it will obey the Geneva Convention – but will it sign up to the Paris agreement?
A point worth noting is that Dr Ashurbeyli is described in the press release as the “Head of Nation”, a ludicrously bland name for someone in charge of something called Asgardia. We think he should be called “Odin”, which could stand for Overall Director of Independent Nation, perhaps. Everyone loves a backronym.
“Asgardia will open up access to space for commerce, science and for people from all around the world,” the press release concludes. This all sounds very ambitious, so does the first satellite live up to the epic nature of the mission?
Motherboard have done some digging and found a filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that explains the CubeSat Asgardia-1 – which will launch this September – will fly into space on a resupply mission to the ISS.
It will be carrying a 512GB solid state drive already packed with data, which at present remains unknown. The point, apparently, is to see how long data storage lasts in space.
So at present, Dr Ashurbeyli is the Odin of a USB.