Asgardia, a rather unusual attempt to start a nation in space, has announced it wants to eventually build a space station in Earth orbit and on the Moon.
That somewhat lofty goal was revealed at a press conference in Hong Kong today. Here, Asgardia also unveiled its plans to launch its first satellite, Asgardia-1, in autumn this year.
Asgardia styles itself as being the world’s first space nation. It plans to launch a small cubesat on an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft from Wallops Island, Virginia in September. Basically a flying 512gb hard drive, this will be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) by NanoRacks, and orbit Earth for five years.
People who have signed up online to join the space nation, called Asgardians, will be able to upload data onto the cubesat. While this is perhaps intended to be photos and messages, there is the possibility this could be some sort of data haven for illegal content. Asgardia told New Scientist, though, that they would vet any data before it is sent up. Each person can upload 300kb of data to the satellite.
“Asgardia-1 will contain data stored for free for up to 1.5 million Asgardians on board the satellite,” Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, who is leading the project, said in a statement.
“These are historic days, and your names and data will forever stay in the memory of the new space humanity, as they will be reinstalled on every new Asgardia satellite we launch.”
Initially, it looked like Asgardia would be a nation in name only, with people signing up for a bit of fun and pretending to be Asgardians. So when the company said it was also planning to build a space station, well, things got a bit weirder.
A concept image from the company shows people walking around a giant space station, complete with vehicles flying overhead. We’ve been having some discussions in the IFLScience office about what this is supposed to be. A Stanford Torus, perhaps, which spins to create a centrifugal force and thus artificial gravity? Maybe.
That seems to be the case based on a second image. This shows a more realistic modular space station, with a larger ring-shaped station in the background.
Now, we know concept images are just, that concepts. But for a company apparently trying to be taken seriously, it probably doesn’t help that they’re posting fanciful illustrations of structures that will never be built anytime soon.
This was not the only weird thing from the press conference. Asgardia plans to form the Parliament of Asgardia in six months. It also revealed a “national calendar” with three, like, bank holidays? I guess. They are National Unity Day (18 June), Asgardia’s birthday (12 October), and Year Day (31 December). I didn’t make that last one up, I promise.
That’s not all. You can also apply to be a “member of Parliament” for Asgardia, with a number of positions open. You’ll need to amass a following of about 10,000 people to do so, though. And from June 18, you can also vote for the nation’s constitution, flag, and national anthem.
To vote, you’ll need to be a registered citizen, which you can do on Asgardia’s site. They claim to have more than 190,000 registered citizens from 200 countries, making them the 185th biggest country in the world in terms of population.
Asgardia says their inaugural satellite will be a stepping stone to a larger network of satellites. These will be used to find asteroids, monitor solar flares, and track space debris. This is perhaps a more realistic goal than building a giant Stanford Torus in orbit. But if that’s just a joke, then I’m not sure what the punchline is.