Motto: One Humanity, One Unity
Asgardia -1 (satellite)|
|Administrative center||Vienna, Austria|
• Head of Admin.
• Deputy Head
|Lena De Winne|
• Executive Secretary
|Lembit Öpik |
|Legislature||Unicameral parliament, up to 150 Members|
|12 October 2016|
• Constitution effective
|9 September 2017|
• Declaration and Inauguration
|25 June 2018 |
|Membership||~ 249,000 |
|Purported currency||SOLAR (proposed)|
Asgardia, also known as the Space Kingdom of Asgardia, is a group of people who have launched a satellite into Earth orbit. They refer to themselves as "Asgardians" and they have given their satellite the name "Asgardia -1". They have declared sovereignty over the space occupied by and contained within Asgardia -1.
The Asgardians have adopted a constitution and they intend to access outer space free of the control of existing nations. They are in the process of electing a 150-member parliament and they are planning to seek recognition as a nation state.
Igor Ashurbeyli, the founder of the Aerospace International Research Center, proposed the establishment of Asgardia on 12 October 2016. The "Constitution of the Space Kingdom of Asgardia" was adopted on 18 June 2017 and it became effective on 9 September 2017. Asgardia's administrative center is located in Vienna, Austria.
The Cygnus spacecraft that carried Asgardia -1 into space released Asgardia -1 and two other satellites on 6 December 2017. The Space Kingdom of Asgardia has claimed that it is now "the first nation to have all of its territory in space." Legal scholars doubt that Asgardia -1 can be regarded as a sovereign territory and Asgardia has not yet attained the goal of being recognized as a nation state.
The Constitution of Asgardia divides the government of Asgardia into three branches: (1) a legislative branch named the "Parliament", (2) an executive branch named the "Government", and (3) a judicial branch named the "Court". The Parliament is composed of 150 members and each member is referred to as a "Member of Parliament". The Members of Parliament elect one Member to the office of "Chairman of the Parliament". The Members of Parliament also appoint the "Chairman of the Government". The Parliament has 12 permanent committees.
The Chairman of the Government supervises 12 Ministers. Each Minister supervises the operation of one Government Ministry. Each of the permanent committees of Parliament monitors the operation of one Government Ministry. The Parliament may invite Ministers to attend meetings of the Parliament.
The judicial branch includes a "Supreme Justice", who supervises the operation of four judicial panels: (1) a "constitutional" panel, (2) a "civil" panel, (3) an "administrative" panel, and (4) a "criminal" panel. The Supreme Justice is appointed by the "Head of Nation". The "Justices" who serve on the judicial panels are appointed by the Parliament.
The Head of Nation is the most senior official of the executive branch (i.e., the Government). The Head of Nation is elected to a 5-year term of office. The Head of Nation may dissolve the Parliament and may then order the holding of parliamentary elections. The Head of Nation may initiate legislative proposals and may veto acts adopted by the Parliament. The Head of Nation may issue decrees that must be obeyed by governmental bodies and by the citizens of Asgardia.
Announced on 12 October 2016, the ultimate aim of the project is to create a new nation that allows access to outer space free of the control of existing nations. The current space law framework, the Outer Space Treaty requires governments to authorise and supervise all space activities, including the activities of non-governmental entities such as commercial and non-profit organizations; by attempting to create a nation, those behind Asgardia hope to avoid the tight restrictions that the current system imposes. "Asgardia" was chosen as a reference to Asgard, one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology; the world that was inhabited by the gods.
People were invited to register for citizenship, with the aim of Asgardia then applying to the United Nations for recognition as a nation state. In less than 2 days, there were over 100,000 applications; within 3 weeks, there were 500,000. After tougher verification requirements were introduced, this declined, and stood at around 210,000 in June 2017. There is no intention to actually move these members into space. Asgardia intends to apply for membership of the UN in 2018.
Backed by a number of international space experts, the project was initiated by Russian scientist and businessman, Igor Ashurbeyli, founder of the Aerospace International Research Center. As part of the application process, members were required to confirm him as "Head of Nation"; Ashurbeyli expects to move to a democratic system during 2017.[needs update] It officially calls itself the "Space Kingdom of Asgardia".
Launch of Asgardia-1 on 12 November 2017
|Mission type||Technology demonstrator|
|Operator||Space Kingdom of Asgardia|
Planned: 5 years |
Elapsed: 8 months, 13 days
|Spacecraft type||2U CubeSat|
|Launch mass||2.8 kg (6.2 lb)|
|Dimensions||10 × 10 × 20 cm (3.9 × 3.9 × 7.9 in)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||12 November 2017, 12:19:51UTC|
|Launch site||MARS LP-0A|
|Entered service||6 December 2017, 22:40:22 UTC|
|End of mission|
|Decay date||Expected: 12 November 2022|
|Semi-major axis||6,830.4 km (4,244.2 mi)|
|Perigee||450.2 km (279.7 mi)|
|Apogee||454.4 km (282.4 mi)|
|Epoch||1 January 2018, 10:01:15 UTC|
Asgardia intends to launch a series of satellites into Earth orbit. Its first satellite was successfully launched by Orbital ATK on 12 November 2017 as part of an International Space Station resupply mission. It is a two-unit CubeSat measuring 10 cm × 10 cm × 20 cm (4 in × 4 in × 8 in) at a weight of 2.8 kg (6.2 lb), manufactured and deployed into orbit by NanoRacks, and has been named Asgardia - 1. The overall goal of the Asgardia - 1 mission is to demonstrate the long-term storage of data on a solid-state storage device operating in low Earth orbit. The spacecraft has a 512 gigabyte solid-state storage device. The data stored in this device will be periodically checked for data integrity and function. Prior to launch, the data storage device was loaded with things like family photos supplied by the first 1,500,000 members of Asgardia. After the spacecraft achieves Earth orbit, data can be uploaded or downloaded using the Globalstar satellite network.
Asgardia - 1 was boosted to space and then deployed by US companies on a NASA-funded mission so the satellite falls under US jurisdiction. Asgardia intends to partner with a non-signatory to the Outer Space Treaty (OST), perhaps an African state such as Ethiopia or Kenya, in the hopes of circumventing the OST's restriction on nation-states claiming territory in outer space. The satellite is expected to have a lifetime of 5 years before its orbit decays and it burns up on reentry.
A continuously updated map that shows the location of Asgardia - 1 in its orbit is being hosted by NearSpace Launch, Inc. Asgardia - 1 (NORAD satellite identification number 43049) is also being tracked by Satflare.
Often described as a billionaire, Ashurbeyli has said that he is currently solely responsible for funding Asgardia, and that members will not be funding the planned first satellite launch. Although the cost has not been made publicly available, NanoRacks have said that similar projects cost $700,000. The project intends to move to crowdfunding to finance itself. Sa'id Mosteshar, of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, says this suggests that Asgardia lacks a credible business plan. A company, Asgardia AG, has been incorporated, and members can buy shares in it. Asgardia wants to enable its founders' companies to use Asgardia's satellite network for their own services and business activities. These are to be settled via the crypto currency Solar and the reserve currency Lunar.
Eventually, Asgardia hopes to have a colony in orbit. This will be expensive: the International Space Station cost $100bn to build, and flights to it cost over $40m per launch. Asgardia has been compared to the troubled Mars One project, which aims to establish a permanent colony on Mars, although Asgardia's organisers point out that setting up a small nation in orbit will be a lot easier than colonising distant Mars. Other proposed goals for the future include shielding the Earth from asteroids and coronal mass ejections, and a Moon base.
There has been at least one previous attempt to set up an independent nation in space. The Nation of Celestial Space, also known as Celestia, was formed in 1949 by James Mangan and claimed all of space. He banned atmospheric nuclear testing and issued protests to the major powers at their encroachment on his territory, but was ignored by both the powers and the UN. However, modern communications mean that Asgardia has a better ability to organise its claim and perhaps raise funds for the satellite that would give it a physical presence in outer space.
The State of Nevada has adopted the Uniform Law Commission's "Revised Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act of 2008". If Asgardia conducted it activities in the State of Nevada, Asgardia would be treated by that state as an "unincorporated nonprofit association" and as "a legal entity distinct from its members and managers". In other jurisdictions, Asgardia might or might not be treated as a legal entity; i.e., an entity that has the capacity to purchase, hold, and sell real property and personal property, and the power to enter into contracts, and the power to petition a court of law.
In a jurisdiction that does not recognize Asgardia as a legal entity, Asgardia's interests might be represented by a legal entity that has agreed to act as Asgardia's agent. A corporation organized in Austria and named Asgardia AG has acted as Asgardia's agent.
Recognition and territorial claims
The United Nations-sponsored 1967 "Outer Space Treaty" established all of outer space as an international commons by describing it as the "province of all mankind". Article II of the Treaty embodies a fundamental principle of space law by declaring that space, including Moon and other astronomical objects, is not subject to any national sovereignty claim. Article VI vests the responsibility for activities in space to States Parties, regardless of whether they are carried out by governments or non-governmental entities. Article VIII stipulates that the State Party to the Treaty that launches a space object shall retain jurisdiction and control over that object.
According to Sa'id Mosteshar of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law: "The Outer Space Treaty... accepted by everybody says very clearly that no part of outer space can be appropriated by any state." Without self-governing territory in space where citizens are present, Mosteshar suggested that the prospect any country would recognise Asgardia was slim.
Ram Jakhu, the director of McGill University's Institute of Air and Space Law, and Asgardia's legal expert, believes that Asgardia will be able to fulfill three of the four elements that the UN requires when considering if an entity is a state: citizens; a government; and territory, being an inhabited spacecraft. In that situation, Jakhu considers that fulfulling the fourth element, gaining recognition by the UN member states, will be achievable, and Asgardia will then be able to apply for UN membership. The Security Council would then have to assess the application, as well as obtain approval from two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly.
Joanne Gabrynowicz, an expert in space law and a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology's School of Law, believes that Asgardia will have trouble attaining recognition as a nation. She says there are a "number of entities on Earth whose status as an independent nation have been a matter of dispute for a long time. It is reasonable to expect that the status an unpopulated object that is not on Earth will be disputed."
Christopher Newman, an expert in space law at the UK's University of Sunderland, highlights that Asgardia is trying to achieve a "complete re-visitation of the current space-law framework," anticipating that the project will face significant obstacles with getting UN recognition and dealing with liability issues. The Outer Space Treaty requires the country that sends a mission into space to be responsible for the mission, including any damage it might cause.
As Asgardia is involved in the storing of private data, there could be legal and ethical issues. For the moment, as the Asgardian satellite is being deployed to orbit by US companies, it will fall under US jurisdiction and data stored on the satellite will be subject to US privacy laws.
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- Lembit Öpik was elected Chairman of the Asgardia Parliament on 24 June 2018.
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- Section 81.700 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
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- Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, Article VIII, "A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body."
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