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Can Asgardia Become The First Space Nation?

Or build a giant asteroid shield?

Could a space station like this be our newest nation state? (Photo: iurii/Shutterstock.com)

This morning marked the announcement of the wildly ambitious Asgardia (no relation to the Marvel Comics location) project, which promises to not only create a defensive shield for our entire planet, but also to establish the very first sovereign “space nation.” Which all sounds very, very awesome, assuming it’s even legal.

Spearheaded by led Russian scientist Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli, the sci-fi initiative would entail designating an area of space that would be the home of Asgardia, where space science could be tested free from the conflicts and restrictions that terrestrial borders place on our space sciences. They even plan on one day joining the UN, if they can legitimately create a brand new nation, that is.

“Starting a nation is not an easy feat, and I am skeptical that any existing nation will recognize Asgardia as sovereign,” says Jacob Haqq-Misra, Research Scientist with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science. “International agreement stipulates that anyone launching into space is an emissary of the nation from which they launch, so I’m guessing that Asgardia would be regarded as an extension of whichever nation the members hold citizenship of and from where they choose to launch.”

Then there is the Outer Space Treaty (OST) that is the bedrock of all international space law, which states that no nation can claim ownership of parts of space or celestial bodies. However, Asgardia might be above that.

“Technically, if Asgardia is recognized as an independent nation, then it will not be bound by the OST, as it has not formally signed the treaty,” says Haqq-Misra. “But I doubt that anyone will recognize Asgardia as independent, so the provisions of the OST will likely apply.”

All Earthly laws aside, should Asgardia manage to get off the ground, so to speak, the first proposed project would be to create a cutting-edge orbital shield that would protect the planet from both human-made space junk, and such stellar threats as asteroids. Although, few details of exactly what form this shield would take were not provided.

The effort is backed by the Aerospace International Research Center, and Asgardia aims to have its first satellite in orbit by 2017. With the announcement, Asgardia has also placed an open call for flag designs, and compositions for the national anthem. They are also currently holding an open registration for new citizens. If this election season’s got you down, forget moving to Canada, sign up to immigrate to space.