Inside the Asgardia Congress

Asgardia wants to be the world’s first space nation. By 2023, its citizens plan to establish their own laws, government and currency. In space.

Asgardia is the brainchild of Russian scientist and businessman, Igor Ashurbeyli. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, Ashurbeyli made his fortune by founding a successful computer company during the economic liberalisation of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In the 1990s and 2000s he ran SPA Almaz, the research arm of one of Russia’s largest arms companies. Then, at a press conference in Paris in October 2016, Ashurbeyli announced his new project: the Space Kingdom of Asgardia. In 2018, he announced himself as both the new nation’s head of state and of its Supreme Space Council (Asgardia’s version of the Supreme Court) in an elaborate, self-funded ceremony in an Austrian castle. Attendees sang the Asgardian anthem and swore pledges to the new nation.

Asgardia is a nation without “earthly borders”, open for any nationality to join. Its motto is “One Humanity, One Unity”. To be accepted as a citizen, however, an applicant must be “a professional” or “talent”. To become a “resident” of Asgardia incurs a joining fee of $1,000. To bring functioning democracy to this nation of high achievers – true nationhood is the goal for 2023 – Asgardia has selected a head of its parliament: the former Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire, contestant in the 2010 series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and host of the 9am-noon slot on BBC Radio Kent, Lembit Öpik.

“It was never my plan to be in politics,” Opik tells me, “but I wanted to change things I didn’t like about society and I ended up in parliament as a result. Exactly the same motivation attracts me to Asgardia.” Öpik describes his fellow Asgardians as “a community of visionary individuals who really think that we can produce a better society than what we’ve done on Earth. I find it really motivating to work with others on exporting all that’s best about the human race and leaving the worst behind.”

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