Although this headline sounds as though it’s been ripped from a science fiction film script, we can assure you it’s real. Announced this morning in Paris, a new project will launch a satellite launch later this year, marking the first step toward the establishment of a ‘space nation’ dubbed Asgardia. The outlandish project calls for a floating, independent nation comprised of expat Earthlings who would work together to protect this green planet from asteroids, space junk, solar flares, and other threats floating around in space. Asgardia is now accepting volunteers to be among its first citizens.
Asgardia takes its name from Norse mythology, specifically from the land ruled by Odin. Comic book fans will also recognize the project’s name, because it has a long history in Marvel lore. The project’s logo image features a rendering of a spaceship and while there is no telling whether the image represents any actual designs, it does suggest a number of things about the venture. The spaceship sports the Eye of Horus, an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, reinforcing Asgardia’s mission to protect Earth from asteroids and other threats.
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The project is operating on a first-come, first-served basis, granting citizenship to the first 100,000 people who sign up on the Asgardia website. It’s not clear at this point what that would entail, or when human volunteers would have an opportunity to take up residence on a floating spaceship nation.
Who is behind this mysterious and incredibly ambitious project? The effort is an international one, backed by the Aerospace International Research Center and the center’s online space magazine, Room. The team is led by Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, a leading member of the Russian Federal Space Agency, who founded AIRC in Vienna in 2013 and is editor-in-chief of the online magazine. He was recently named chair of UNESCO’s Science of Space committee, and has launched Asgardia amid a swarm of criticism, skepticism, and even laughter.
But, yes, in case you’re wondering, I am waiting to find out whether my citizenship request made it in under the wire.
Images via James Vaughn and Asgardia