Read More: New Scientist
The Space Kingdom of Asgardia has launched its first satellite. This so-called ‘virtual nation’ is the pet project of Russian scientist and billionaire Igor Ashurbeyli. Last year, he proposed a new nation which would be based in space in order to be outside of the control of nations on Earth. The Asgardia-1 satellite, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, launched on 12 November and contains half a terabyte of data. It holds the foundations of the project – the nation’s constitution, its national symbols, and data from its 115,000 citizens. It was launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia aboard a Cygnus spacecraft on an Orbital ATK Antares rocket. The Cygnus craft will dock with the International Space Station on 14 November to perform its primary mission of delivering supplies to the astronauts there. After about a month, it will undock and fly higher above Earth, where it will release Asgardia’s satellite into orbit. While Ashurbeyli has plans to convince the UN to recognise Asgardia as a sovereign nation and someday build Asgardian colonies in space, it is not currently recognised as a nation by any country on Earth. For now, the only benefit offered to citizens of the space nation is the ability to upload data to Asgardia-1 in orbit. Time will tell whether the Space Kingdom of Asgardia becomes the first space-based nation or whether it will remain simply an orbiting external hard drive.