The first space nation yesterday, today and tomorrow: parliamentary elections that took place in March of this year, the formation of other government bodies, and the prospects of Asgardia’s scientific and technological development – all in the interview with the Head of the first space nation.
A real nation with a mythological name
– Igor, for those who don't know, please explain what Asgardia is. The first association is with Scandinavian mythology. But we’re talking about a real nation, not a mythological one? Where does the idea of creating the nation come from?
– Asgard is the city of Scandinavian gods, the city of space, the prototype of some sort of an ideal habitat, same as Shambhala, City of Kitezh, Seven Heavens. Asgardia is the first space nation in the world, the embodiment of humankind’s age-old dream, which has always tried to break free, to escape from its imperfect Earthly cradle.
The idea of creating an independent state that is unlike any other came to me more than 10 years ago. But a nation needs a territory, and the existing land assets on our planet have been divvied up. New nations are left with artificial islands or other artificial developments.
In 2016, when I was in Montreal at the international conference on space law, I thought to myself: why not make this new independent nation a space one? Is there a reason for why not? Talking with lawyers, specialists in the area of space law at McGill University in Canada, prompted me in that my idea began to take a more defined form.
Anyone who reaches the age of 18 can become a citizen of Asgardia. For those under 18, parental consent is required from both parents for registration on Asgardia.space. A person born to Asgardian citizens automatically becomes a citizen of the first space nation. Among Asgardian citizens who are registered currently, about 70% are under the age of 35. About 85% of Asgardians are men, and approximately 15% are women.
Asgardia is not a mythical nation. It already exists. It has citizens, it has a Constitution. It as a territory: its satellite, Asgardia-1, that was launched from the flight facility in Virginia on 12 November 2017, exactly 13 months after the verbal announcement of the creation of Asgardia. No one believed that this was realistic: to prepare the satellite this quickly, to coordinate and execute the launch. And yet we did it. The satellite was deployed to orbit at approximately 550 km and entered the low Earth orbit, where it is currently. It is a CubeSat – as you understand, it’s relatively small. And it contains all of the data of all of the Asgardian citizens who were registered as such at the time of the launch.
By the way, this marked the first time in history when ordinary people were given the opportunity to send – on such a massive scale – their personal information to space – anything they wanted, in the form of text, photos of video files. Before Asgardia-1, the only people who had access to memory storage on satellites were scientists, special forces and the like.
Satellites such as Asgardia-1 have a lifetime of 18 months. In reality, it needs to work for at least three years. During this time, other satellites of Asgardia will be prepared for launching – we plan to create a satellite constellation.
The information on the satellite is updated every two weeks. The personal data contained on Asgardia-1 is currently being duplicated to other satellites, so that this data stays in space forever. I can say definitively that the first Golden hundred thousand of Asgardians have already become a part of the space history of humanity.
– Why did the launch take place in the United States, and not in Russia?
– There's no political underpinning here. Asgardia, I repeat, is an independent nation. We launched the satellite from an American flight facility, but this wasn’t crucial for us. It’s just that the window of opportunity at that particular moment was very narrow. And this, in essence, was our only chance to move forward with the launch at the time when we needed to do so.
The space arc and moon settlement in the next 15 years
– Nevertheless, Asgardia is a topic of interest in the United States. Neoscribe, an American educational channel, aired a segment in which it put Asgardia up on the same playing field as other private projects that are tied to space activity. In particular – the Martian ideas of Elon Musk. How do you react to such comparisons? Do you consider yourself more of a realist than, say, Musk?
– Elon Musk implements his ideas as part of his company. We, in turn, are creating an entire nation that will have many companies, including those that are similar to the ones owned by Elon Musk.
Piloted flights to Mars, colonies on the Red Planet – it's a wonderful dream. But for those who are at least slightly familiar with physics, it’s entirely obvious that as of today, this dream is impossible solely for physiological reasons. For a human, a flight to Mars is a one-way ticket, something that not only lacks a return ticket, but possibly doesn’t even guarantee arrival. It is possible, of course, that one day the problem of protection from cosmic radiation will be solved.
What Asgardia is doing – it’s also a dream, of course, but it’s a dream that demands realisation in the short and medium term. Asgardia has put forth very real engineering, technical, legal and philosophical questions. So we have a Russian doll consisting of three layers. The outer layer is Asgardia’s philosophy, the middle one is the law, because creation of a legal state outside of Earth’s territory is an unprecedented case. Lastly, the third layer is the engineering and technical implementation, including the creation of a low-orbit, multi-level constellation in space, as well as moon settlements. Yes, of course, all this requires groundbreaking technologies, but in this case, they can at least be put in place in the foreseeable future.
– … And this “foreseeable future” – what's the timeline for that? When will it finally happen – what mankind has dreamt about for centuries?
– That is the most difficult question. Because I’m an engineer myself, and I’ve made and built plenty of systems in my lifetime, I don’t like to make promises that are impossible to fulfill. Everything that we are doing and building right now is being done and built for the first time ever. This is pioneering in terms of philosophy and law, and in terms of engineering and technology.
The first global milestone that we have to achieve is the creation of the space arc – analogous to the International Space Station. The main difference from the ISS is that the arc must be built in a way that humans can reside there permanently.
At this point, we are just guests on the orbit, because two main problems remain unresolved as of yet: the development of artificial gravity and the protection of the human organism against cosmic radiation. We have to find a way to solve these problems in the next 15-20 years.
I have already written the technical specifications, but they must be reviewed by experts from many countries and companies. The exact timeline for the implementation, I think, will be determined next year. But I will not be the one to talk about it in detail – that will be up to Asgardia’s Minister of Science.
In accordance with the Constitution
– Minster of Science? Does that mean that Asgardia's government has already been created?
– The formation of government bodies and agencies constitutes our plans that we intend to realise this year.
As of today, Asgardia’s coat of arms, anthem, flag and Head of Nation have been confirmed. The Constitution has been accepted by the popular vote. 72.5% of Asgardians voted in favour of the proposed draft of the Constitution. In terms of global democratic law – it’s a very convincing number.
By my Decree, the Constitution took effect on 9 September 2017. From that time on, we have strictly adhered to the framework set by the Constitution. In accordance with the Constitution, the parliamentary elections must take place no later than six months after the Constitution is enacted. That is why until 1 March 2018, we conducted preliminary elections and confirmed our candidates, and during the period of 1-9 March, we conducted the final round of voting. On 1 April, we will have the results of that voting.
Next, during a three-month period, members of the Government, the Supreme Space Court, the National Audit Office and the Supreme Space Council will be appointed. After the formation of the various government bodies – in June, I hope – the inauguration of the Head of Nation will take place. These are our plans for the near future.
After the government sеts up the National Bank, we will be able to issue our currency. The unit of Asgardia currency is outlined in the Constitution and is called the Solar.
During the formation of the government structure, we abide by all of the conventions of Earthly international law, all constitutional timeframes, so that by the time we submit the application for recognition of Asgardia as an independent nation by the UN, we can minimize potential challenges. Two international accredited law firms are monitoring the voting process, validating its authenticity and legitimacy.
A world without Earthly boundaries
– The elections to the first Parliament of the first-ever space nation – that’s also an unprecedented event on your planet. Please elaborate on this. Who can put forth their candidacy? How does the voting work?
– Asgardia is a space nation. Therefore, we do not see Earthly boundaries. We don’t divide humanity based on nationality, religion, or any other category dictated by society. For us, only different languages exist – languages spoken by people living on Earth. That is why our parliamentary elections are based on the language principle.
As of today, Asgardian citizens comprise 180,000 people from different corners of our planet. That’s about 200 countries, the geography of the entire world. This is a huge number of languages. During registration on our website, every Asgardian has the opportunity to choose the language that they want to use in Asgardia. As a result, 12 leading languages emerged. English took the first place, followed by Chinese, Turkish, Spanish and other languages.
Russian is in seventh place, but only because it was chosen not only by those living in the Russian Federation, but also by Russian speakers who live in other countries, in the former republics of the USSR. That is why out of 150 seats in Asgardia’s first Parliament, there are only six seats assigned to representatives of the Russian language.
Voting takes place in 13 districts. Twelve districts are for the speakers of the leading languages, and the 13th district is for people who speak other languages. Candidates are nominated in each of these districts.
Every citizen of Asgardia who has reached the age of 40 has the right to nominate themselves as a parliamentary candidate. As the Head of Nation, I faced harsh criticism in social media for what many considered to be an overly stringent age requirement. To this I answer: we think that in addition to professional experience, a candidate needs life experience, which can only be gained by living the said life. That is why the age of 40 is the minimal age of candidates for Members of Parliament. The maximal age is 80. By that age, the Member of Parliament must vacate their seat. There are no limitations regarding how many times one can participate in the elections, or on how many times they can be reelected.
– Igor, you made the announced regarding the creation of a space nation in Paris, and your headquarters are in Vienna. Why is all of it – not in Russia? Will we ever see a separate embassy of the space nation in our country?
– Paris is the city of freedom, and Austria is a neutral state that is not part of any military or political alliance. Also, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is located in Vienna. This determined the choice of location for Asgardia’s headquarters on Earth. Furthermore, since Asgardia does not see Earthly state borders, but only continents, we will create Asgardian embassies on Earthly continents. I don’t see any reasons why Moscow can’t be the embassy for Eurasia.Anna Grigg