Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Photo of the Asgardian National Flag
Asgardia. It sounds like something out of Norse mythology (Asgard being the home of the Norse gods) or the next Marvel blockbuster, but in reality it is something quite different. “Asgardia is a fully-fledged and independent nation ... with all the attributes this status entails: a government and embassies, a flag, a national anthem and insignia, and so on” as said by Asgardia’s website. Asgardia is the birth child of billionaire Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli. Dr. Ashurbeyli, “the Doctor of Science in Engineering, was born into an Azerbaijani noble family and made his billions as the founder of Socium, a small software and consulting company he grew into a multinational holding company. As an engineer, he was awarded the State Science & Technology Prize for developing a new generation of micro-technology communications systems and received a Gold UNESCO Medal for his contributions in nanoscience and nanotechnologies.” Quite the resume. Though some question his motives, the result is an online population of 115, 000 according to their website, though CNet.com said that “over 300,000 people signed up online to become "citizens" of the nation over the last year.” Asgardia’s website says that “115,714 Asgardian Citizens have already accepted the Constitution and have a chance of receiving citizenship.” The aforementioned Constitution covers everything from citizens rights to the structure of a 150 member parliament. To put it into perspective, with a “population” of 115,000, Asgardia has twice the population of Greenland.
Also as of this week, Asgardia-1, a small satellite and the first “territory” of the declared Space Nation was sent to the International Space Station . CNN said "The 'nanosat' is roughly the size of a loaf of bread [and] undertook a two-day journey from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the United States, to the International Space Station (ISS)."
Photo of what Asgardia-1 looks like
To some, a space kingdom may sound silly, but when we look at the future of our existence as a species, does it really seem that farfetched? Yes, it may just be an idea (and a satellite) currently, but you must start somewhere. As a whole, our species must ask some larger questions that just are not being asked by the majority of us. What does a multi-planetary government look like and how would it function? Fundamentally, we must ask what does the future of humanity look like? There are an increasing amount of people that see the advantages of moving beyond being a single planetary species, and in many ways is the best way to ensure the survival of our race. Top members of the science community agree that we are running out of time on Earth (at our current rate of population growth, fossil fuel usage, reckless destruction of our natural world, over farming, etc. - we are basically a ticking time bomb) and while it might not be in the form of an Asgardian Space Society, they are looking for other options now. We are on the cusp of technology that will take us to other planets, probably within the next two decades. Elon Musk has said many times what his intentions are with SpaceX: "Fundamentally, the future is vastly more exciting if we're a spacefaring civilization and a multi-planet species than if we're not.”
He ambitiously said, in an update of SpaceX's plan this year, that they hope to send a manned ship to Mars as soon as 2024. "The timeline Musk gave was ... two cargo landers would land on Mars in 2022, with four vehicles launching in 2024," said The Planetary Society's Jason Davis. "Two of those 2024 ships would be crewed, meaning, in Musk's timeline, humans could walk on Mars in just seven years." That presentation also unveiled a plan to place a million people on Mars in 40 to 100 years. Think about that for a second. A million people. A million people on a planet with, at that point, a corporation running the show (until others stake claim.) Total Recall, anyone? Now, I believe that Musk would set up an ethical society, but who knows? What if it is someone else who isn't looking out for their citizens? Either way, we are headed to the stars. "The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars, but now we can transcend it" Stephen Hawking, famed theoretical physicist, said during a news conference.
There are handfuls of other companies and individuals actively pursuing the goal of moving us beyond Earth. Stephen Hawking himself is working on a project called 'Starshot' with the goal of sending a probe to reach Alpha Centauri.
"With light beams, light sails and the lightest spacecraft ever built, we can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation," Hawking added. "Today, we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos. Because we are human, and our nature is to fly." I believe it is important, vital even, to start thinking of the future and our place in it now.