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13 Nov, 2017 11:48

Toaster-sized satellite is first-ever ‘space nation’

Toaster-sized satellite is first-ever ‘space nation’

The first self-proclaimed “nation in space” has been established in orbit around the Earth – the first step in what some hope will become the basis for a human colony beyond our planet.

The ‘Space Kingdom of Asgardia’ is hardly the grandiose mixture of advanced technology and baroque architecture found in countless sci-fi and fantasy films. Rather it is a toaster-sized satellite filled with data uploaded by some of its 113,000 registered “citizens.”

“We are delighted to announce that the Asgardia space kingdom has now established its sovereign territory in space. Congratulations to all Asgardians!” a statement on the Asgardia website read. It followed the launch aboard the Orbital ATK Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Sunday.

Thousands of people have signed up to become Asgardian “nationals” which carries few rights other than the privilege of uploading their information to the cubesat. The leaders of the Asgardia project believe the satellite will be the first in a series of small projects that will eventually lead to a sprawling human space colony.

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Billed as a “future member of the United Nations,” the cubesat is hitchhiking aboard the Cygnus capsule as it completes a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It will remain aboard the ISS for a month before being deployed into Earth’s orbit along with a dozen other cubesats prior to Cygnus’ return.

“In ancient Norse mythology, Asgard was a city in the skies, the country of the Gods,” Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli, the leader of the project and chairman of UNESCO’s Science of Space Committee, said. “The essence of Asgardia is Peace in Space, and the prevention of Earth’s conflicts being transferred into space.”

Currently, the Outer Space Treaty governing international space law states that responsibility for objects launched into space lies with the nation that launched them. The project team at Asgardia claim that theirs will set a new precedent, shifting responsibility to the newly-established nation.

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Asgardia already has its own national anthem and ranks itself 175th in terms of population against other nations on Earth. It also has upcoming elections, in which 150 citizens will be elected as members of parliament. However, according to the website, there are currently just 12 registered parliamentary candidates.