Humanity's first "space nation", Asgardia, is a step closer to getting off the ground after its first satellite was launched last week. While the ultimate goal is for millions of people to live on a constellation of satellites orbiting the Earth, don't bother packing your bags just yet: Asgardia-1 is just a CubeSat carrying 500 GB of pictures and text.
We first heard about Asgardia last October, when Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli laid out his pie-in-the-sky plans for an independent nation where everybody is totally equal, scientific knowledge is freely available for all and peace is a priority. Built on a series of satellites, Asgardia is designed to (literally) rise above worldly conflicts, while somehow also keeping one foot on the ground as a member of the United Nations.
At this stage, it sounds like the ramblings of a madman or the setup for a dystopian sci-fi story (or both), but Ashurbeyli seems dedicated to the project, having declared himself the first Head of Nation of the Space Kingdom of Asgardia. And if that's not an excuse to start calling yourself a Space King, we don't know what is.
With all that now in place, the first piece of Asgardia was launched into space on November 12, 2017 (or November 8, 0001 if you've already switched over to the official Asgardian calendar). Asgardia-1 was packed into the Cygnus spacecraft bound for the International Space Station as part of a routine resupply mission, and the little CubeSat will be launched into its own orbit in early December. Its onboard systems are due for activation later that month.
Measuring just 10 x 10 x 20 cm (3.9 x 3.9 x 7.9 in) and weighing 2.8 kg (6.2 lb), Asgardia-1 isn't exactly habitable, but it does mark the first "territory" of the space nation. According to the Space King, having territory should be the last requirement for admission to the UN, since Asgardia already has its constitution, its own cryptocurrency (dubbed Solar) and the beginnings of a government. Nominations are open, by the way, if you feel like adding "Space Senator" to your business card.
We sure wouldn't be surprised if this lone CubeSat turns out to be the only piece of the Space Kingdom of Asgardia to ever get off the ground, but part of us hopes that Ashurbeyli proves us wrong. The story is just too good not to follow.