I don’t really remember when or why, but a while back I signed up to become a citizen of the first space nation.
“Asgardia is the first-ever space nation — a global humanitarian project for everyone on the planet”, is how the ‘Space Kingdom’ defines itself. Founded as a concept by Russian-Azerbaijani scientist Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli, Asgardia now boasts an elected parliament, mayors, and just over 281,000 ‘residents’. It even launched a satellite last year, and has plans to convince the UN to recognise Asgardia as a sovereign state, and to establish colonies in space, including on the moon.
As a big sci-fi buff, naturally the concept of a nation in space fills me with childlike excitement. How couldn’t I sign up as a citizen?
This week, however, I received an interesting email from the Asgardian ‘parliament’, informing me of their recent activity:
“The Parliament of Asgardia recently held the first digital Sitting of any Parliament in human history. At the Sitting, Parliament overwhelmingly supported the 100 Euro Citizenship Fee* (technically a ‘Resident/Citizen’ fee*). This annual Citizenship Fee* was introduced at 18.00 7th November, 0002 (18.00 11th November 2018 earth calendar).”
Even unrecognised space kingdoms are trying to tax me, it seems.
Perhaps the most peculiar thing about this particular announcement, however, was the that the chair of the Asgardian parliament is none other than Lembit Opik, the former Lib Dem MP for the Welsh constituency of Montgomeryshire. For those who don’t know, Lembit is most famous for his relationship with Gabriela Irimia of the Cheeky Girls, and for his post-parliamentary career as a comedian/puppeteer/public figure.
Understandably, this all seemed rather surreal. But, even though I’m not particularly willing to pay €100 to remain a citizen, to receive an email from a former MP I hadn’t heard about in years inviting me to stay a part of his space kingdom was actually pretty uplifting.
Of course, my confidence in the success of a project looking to build a new country in space is quite flimsy. As much as I would love nothing more than to see humanity finally and truly, to paraphrase pilot and poet John Magee, ‘slip the surly bonds of Earth and touch the face of God’, the Asgardian project naturally seems too ambitious to see any moon-colonies anytime soon, or at least within my lifetime.
Yet, there’s something quite inspiring in seeing a small group of people launch a satellite into space, declare themselves a nation, and convince 280,000 people from across the world to sign up as citizens. While the UK is flooded with the fear, uncertainty and pessimism of Brexit, it’s good to see that an ex-MP is focussed solely on setting up space kingdoms and moon colonies.
The whole concept of Asgardia might seem a bit crazy to most, but you certainly can’t knock the sheer optimism of the people who genuinely see a future for humanity beyond this planet, and have the drive to try and make this happen. To see scientists like Ashurbeyli and politicians like Opik come together to build a space nation is both surreal and kind of inspirational.
While we might not be living on mars, on satellites, or flying around in starships anytime soon, the project of Asgardia serves as a necessary reminder that there’s still some pretty cool stuff going on in the world. In these tough times, maybe we could use the kind of optimism necessary to build a space kingdom.