Much as it would be an interesting topic to discuss, the Asgardia I refer to here is not the Asgardia of Norse mythology. Instead, the so-called “Space Kingdom” of Asgardia aims to be the first independent nation to operate in outer space. Started and funded by Russian scientist Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli in 2016 the goal of Asgardia is to provide a peaceful society, offer easier access to space technologies, and safeguard the Earth from potential threats like asteroid impacts. Currently there are 140,000 Asgardians from over 200 countries. The nation has a constitution, plans to form a democratic government (elections will likely be sometime next year) and aims to eventually gain UN membership. Long term the nation hopes to construct habitable platforms (which based on the concept art will be visually stunning) around the same altitude as the International Space Station.
Asgardia is fascinating for multiple reasons. The first and most obvious is that they are making a real effort to move humanity forward in terms of space, identifying more “realistic goals” for moving humans off of the surface of earth. Giant platforms in low Earth orbit would be incredibly expensive to research, construct, and maintain, but at the moment they seem to many a more realistic option than maintaining a colony on Mars or far-away planets with Earth-like qualities.
One of the biggest problems with forming a colony on another planet is transportation. The resources and people must be transported across vast distances, which requires time and even more resources. This makes the establishment of another human civilization exponentially more difficult. That is not to say habitable platforms would be easy to build and colonize, but relatively speaking it would be a project much closer to home. This would make transportation a much easier project, and any problems that are encountered could be handled much quicker. It would be much easier to rescue Matt Damon from low Earth orbit than from Mars.
Beyond the coolness factor of trying to make science fiction into science non-fiction Asgardia is also interesting to study as a nation. Throughout human history, the formation of nations has been primarily based on geographical factors. Sure there has been immigration between countries but even now the single dominant factor that defines what nation someone is a part of is the location they are born. With Asgardia, where you are born doesn’t matter. Instead, what unites Asgardians is a shared dream.
In this way, and others, Asgardia may be the first nation of its kind in the history of humanity. A nation where shared values and goals are more significant than being born within arbitrary borders that were formed hundreds of years ago in many cases. If Asgardia ends up succeeding as an entity, it has the potential to lay the framework for a drastic change in how we divide and govern ourselves. While the logistical logic of administering areas adjacent to one another is not lost on me, it is entirely possible that this will be less relevant as we move in the future and we become more connected as a global community.
Asgardia will be something that the rest of the world should watch with great interest. The success of their exploits in outer space may set the benchmark for moving people off of the Earth permanently. With humanity facing threats from climate change, overpopulation, and many other issues branching out into the universe is one potential (albeit expensive) solution. Asgardia should also be examined to see whether it is possible to form a legitimate nation when citizens are scattered around the world and the territory they control is only an inhabited spacecraft zipping around the planet. Only time will tell, but it is entirely possible that one day humanity will look back on Asgardia as the start of a new era.
Jacob Kowalski is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.