Asgardia Is Planned To Be Humanity's First Space Nation
Science and technology is moving at a rapid pace, but even so, the red tape and shifting priorities of individual governments have kept it from moving as fast as it could. That's why a multinational group of researchers, scientists, and other experts have unveiled their plans for an independent space nation they've dubbed Asgardia, after the city in the skies from Norse mythology. The hope is that the nation "will offer an independent platform free from the constraint of a land-based country's laws," a place "which is truly 'no man's land'." There are also plans to mine asteroids and create a protective shield to defend Earth from meteorites, debris, and other interplanetary threats. The first step is to launch a robotic satellite in late 2017, then follow up with a permanent space station in which Asgardian citizens can live and work.
The project received more than 400,000 applications within a week of its October 2016 announcement, but not everyone is on board. Beyond funding concerns, there are questions about how the UN and international space law square with the nation's desire to be unfettered by land-based regulations, not to mention how this sovereign nation would interact with existing ones on Earth. There are also moral quandaries. According to the project's website, one thing holding science back is the fact that "ethical boundaries are considered necessary to sustain safety." There's a long history of unethical science—the Tuskegee syphilis study and Nazi science experiments, among others—that doesn't exactly make humanity proud, and ignoring pillars of research ethics such as informed consent and the desire to "do no harm" has risky implications. Learn more about this hypothetical city in the sky with the videos below.