It sounds like something from science fiction but, it could become science fact, although not for some time. It's called Asgardia and it will be a nation state in space, the first, and will welcome anyone as a citizen. The name for the state is taken from Norse mythology, Asgard is the name of the city in the sky where the gods lived.
The idea is being proposed by a group of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and legal experts headed up by Igor Ashurbeyli, who is head of the Aerospace International Research Center (AIRC) in Vienna and chairman of UNESCO’s science of space committee.
Speaking to the Guardian Ashurbeyli said, "Physically the citizens of that nation state will be on Earth; they will be living in different countries on Earth, so they will be a citizen of their own country and at the same time they will be citizens of Asgardia.”
“We have not seen any nation attempt this before. So this will be a first,” Ram Jakhu, a founding member of Asgardia, told Business Insider. “We’ll start small and eventually people will be going there, and working, and having their own rules and regulations … This facility will become an independent nation.”
Before all this Ashurbeyli wants them to be recognized by the United Nations and wants to get a million people to sign up to become citizens via their website. They needed those to get to 100,000 to be able to apply to the UN to get status as a state. Since launching back on 12 October that figure now sits at 462,850.
The nation will serve as somewhere where scientists can undertake "unrestricted research" but the ultimate aim to build a “state-of-the-art protective shield for all humankind from cosmic, manmade and natural threats to life on earth.” Firstly they'll be sending a prototype satellite which is planned for launch in 2017-2018.
That satellite will be the first step to establishing the nation and eventually a set of space laws that are universal. “The ultimate aim is to create a legal platform to ensure protection of planet Earth and to provide access to space technologies for those who do not have that access at the moment.” Ashurbeyli said.
There's no news yet though on whether the UN will accept Asgardia as a state, and there's still lots of details to work out. But it's an intriguing prospect nonetheless.
“It is an exciting development in many ways because it will be interesting to see how this goes,” an expert in space law Christopher Newman told The Guardian. “But there are formidable obstacles in international space law for them to overcome. What they are actually advocating is a complete re-visitation of the current space law framework.”
There are no plans yet to actually have a settlement in space, but Ashurbeyli says that this will be a step towards humans eventually moving beyond earth and colonizing the cosmos in the distant future.