Asgardia will launch its first satellite later this year.
Cygnus spacecraft and robotic arm of space station closeup with Earth visible below. Image: NASA
Scientists behind the 'space nation' Asgardia will take the first steps towards achieving their goals of a lawless space society later this year, when the group will launch its first satellite to trial long-term data storage concepts in orbit around the Earth.
The concept nation is calling for its first 100,000 citizens to upload 300 kilobytes of personal data each, to be stored on a satellite that will launch in September 2017.
Asgardia, founded in October 2016 by Russian computer scientist Igor Ashurbeyli, eventually wants to create a new nation in space—inhabited by citizens called Asgardians—free of the laws and regulations currently governing space travel and Earth-based nation states. "The essence of Asgardia is Peace in Space, and the prevention of Earth's conflicts being transferred into space," says Ashurbeyli.
At a press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Ashurbeyli, joined by Jeffery Manber, CEO of satellite company NanoRacks and professor Ram Jakhu, director at the Institute of Air and Space Law at Montreal's McGill University, announced that Asgardia will launch Asgardia-1, a small, 2U-configured satellite, this Fall. The satellite will be Asgardia's first claim to a nation state in space.
The CubeSat, measuring 10cm x 10cm x 20cm, will be deployed from Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship, launching from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on its eighth mission to the International Space Station.
Ashurbeyli said that the first 100,000 registered Asgardians will be able to store up to 300kb of data on the Asgardia-1 satellite.
"What comes to mind? Maybe the photo of your little cat, or of your neighbour, or your mother, or your child. Whatever comes to your mind," he said. "This will be for as long as Asgardia exists, in other words, forever."
Ashurbeyli urged Asgardians, thousands of which have registered since the announcement of Asgardia last October, to invite their families and friends to the program, too. The first 400,000 of which will receive 200kb of free storage on the Asgardia-1 satellite.
"Your names and data will forever stay in the memory of the new space humanity
And an extra one million Asgardians after this will be eligible for 100kb of data storage.
"Your names and data will forever stay in the memory of the new space humanity as they will be reinstalled on every following Asgardia satellite, orbital satellite constellation, not only in the near space but also on the Moon and anywhere in the Universe wherever Asgardia will be," declared Ashurbeyli.
According to a recent filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the satellite, launching in September, will carry a 512GB solid state hard drive pre-loaded with the data from Asgardians. Data will then be uploaded and downloaded using the Globalstar satellite constellation.
The next steps for Asgardians come just next week. On June 18, voting will open for the Asgardian Declaration of Unity, the Constitution of Asgardia, Asgardia's flag, its coat of arms, and national anthem. The Parliament of Asgardia is due to be formed in six months time.
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