The first head of the Space Kingdom of Asgardia Igor Ashurbeyli was in great reporters’ demand on the eve of his inauguration and thereafter. This Russian millionaire and philanthropist is quite accustomed to such a publicity since between 2001 and 2011 he headed Russia’s largest defense industry enterprise, Scientific Production Association (SPA) Almaz Antey. Under his guidance, such air defense systems as, for instance, S-300 and S-400 were developed. Nowadays, Doctor of technical sciences Ashurbeyli is building up the first space nation, makes plan of establishing colonies on the Moon and launching inhabited orbital stations. Igor Ashurbeyli told Invest Foresight who will pay for the residential orbital sites, when will Asgardia’s president meet Vladimir Putin and if people can ever live on Mars.
– What is the best way to address you?
– According to the Constitution, I am formally the Head of Nation. Yet in the law there is a very pleasuresome reservation, under which my formal position is identical to that of the national leader I am communicating with at the moment. When I am negotiating with a president, I am a president. When I meet a king, I am a king. When I speak to a dictator, I am a dictator.
– Mr President, who and when came up with the idea of establishing a space nation?
– The idea came to my mind some twenty years ago. Initially it was an idea of creating some sort of an ideal state on the Earth. That was a trivial idea nobody has ever been able to implement throughout the history of the humankind. In summer 2016 I was in Montreal taking part in an international conference on space law. It then became apparent that the problems of the Earth’s security can not be solved in a two-dimensional system and there should be a three-dimensional system allowing to review the problems from the outer space. It is a common knowledge, formulated by Sergei Yesenin, Russia’s greatest poet,
‘When face to face
We cannot see the face.
We should step back for better observation’.
So that was when a decision was made to establish a space nation which would unite the entire humankind irrespective of the borders which split the globe into 229 states. We aim to unite people, not countries.
– How is the project advancing?
– Few days ago Asgardia turned twenty months. Its population has by now reached 200 thousand. Asgardia has got a territory of its own, Asgardia-1 satellite, which was launched last November. It has its constitution approved. On June 24 the first parliamentary session took place in Vienna and elected its chairman and appointed acting prime minister. Within three months she, since prime minister is a woman, is to form a government. The chairperson of the court has been appointed and by the yearend we will have prosecutors, accounting chamber, Supreme Space Council and Central Bank. After that, we may start drafting our 2019 budget. Asgardia has its own flag, anthem, territory, population, and even a formulated political system, i.e. all of the tributes of a state under an international law.
– Is the recognition on the Earth important?
– We do expect recognition and mutual understanding. Having established our foreign ministry, we will start developing relationships with terrestrial states and signing bilateral agreements on mutual recognition. After there is about a dozen such agreements, we can file a request with the UN on been admitted as a member. Informal negotiations with a number of countries have been continuing throughout the year, yet any formal negotiations can only be held once my inauguration takes place.
– Which political system was accepted by Asgardia as an example?
– Asgardia is a democracy. The head of state is elected for a term of five years. Our political system is unprecedented in the world since we do not allow political parties. Our one chamber parliament is made of 150 members and is linguistically based. Asgardians have chosen the languages they are going to speak. There are 12 such languages, and in the parliament there are representatives of each of them.
– How will the territory of the new state expand? How will settlement in the orbit and on the Moon advance?
– Over the next year, a sci-tech concept of Asgardia will be developed. Generally speaking, it is about setting up a global Internet which we call Spacebook. It will become possible through launch of multiple communication satellites which will cover all of the Earth. The fundamental principle of Asgardia is, the link between an Asgardian and the Earth is the legs since an Asgardian uses them to walk the surface. All and any other functions must be implemented in the digital blockchain based space.
Our foreseeable planning horizon is 25 years since as an engineer I try to only make plans for a period which allows seeing results of technical solutions. So within a quarter of a century we expect to set a settlement on the Moon, permanently inhabited by people capable of giving birth to their children. That means, for the first time, human beings will be able to reproduce themselves outside the Earth. That will be the guaranty of the humankind survival even in case of global cataclysms on the Earth.
– It sounds terrific. But conquering space is a cost intensive endeavor. Maintaining International Space Station on the orbit costs $100 bln a year. Where will you get funding?
– Scientific and technical progress is accelerating at such a pace that the project cost will go down. At the moment we value it at $2.5 trillion within next 25 years. We will have a combined funding. I must say, each of our satellites – we intend to have somewhat ten thousand of them – will have its own name. That means all investors planning to finance the constellation of our satellites, will get profits on their investments in satellites. We build a state in such a manner that all Asgardians can take part in the budget surplus distribution. Not a single state on the globe does that. All of our citizens and all those who register their digital businesses in our state, as well as investors of the commercial satellites’ launches will be entitled to the national revenue distribution.
– Which currency do you intend to use?
– The law on currency is to be passed by the parliament. At the moment, we have two cryptocurrencies in mind, Solar, which is to be the means of dealing with the currencies of the states of the Earth, and Lunar, intended exclusively for domestic Asgardian settlements. More details will be available after the laws on the National Bank and national currencies are approved in October and November.
– Do you plan to use asteroids for generating revenues?
– I am not after science fiction. We aim to resolve the most earthy problems such as artificial gravity, protection of humans from space radiance, human reproduction in space. At the initial stage, we plan to build space arks for people to permanently live on the terrestrial orbit. Our next step will be settlements on the Moon. We do not look farther into the outer space. Yet there are lots of other companies and states which promise some fantastic colonization of Mars and extraction of mineral resources at asteroids. Some of such companies may register their businesses in Asgardia’s jurisdiction to promote such projects. We welcome any research.
– Where will the research centers be located?
– Anywhere, where there are people capable of doing the job. We are not a company which must have a manufacturing facility or a booster site of its own. Our goal is providing opportunities for human competences in space exploration. We will not deal with agriculture, or border protection. We will spend no money on police, army or roads maintenance. We will solely concentrate on the space breakthrough.
– Who is interested in your project? Who are the first Asgardians?
– Of those already holding our citizenship, 75% are people aged under 35. That is certainly pleasing. Yet the sad thing is, 85% Asgardians are men, and only 15% of them are women. It is inspiring they all are technically intelligent. They all are advanced computer users since it is otherwise impossible to register in a digital country. 60% of Asgardians have chosen English as their communication language. Other most common languages are Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Italian. At our first parliamentary session, we had 16 simultaneous translators working for delegates from 42 countries.
What is public response to processes in and around Asgardia?
– It is a bit too early to talk about that. Still, within a couple of days after my inauguration, somewhat a hundred international media published news about Asgardia. I was please that in our times of bad news popularity and widespread journalistic bullying I saw not a single openly negative publication. The public attitude therefore is currently positive, but we shall see what happens next.
– Have you had any cooperation proposals from any similar projects?
As far as other similar projects are concerned, we are certain of only one thing, they are non-existent. At the moment, Asgardia is the only space nation. In cooperating with other states, we do not need to look back at someone. We go our own way. We certainly do want to be a member of the UN and to be recognized by many countries of the Earth. Nevertheless, Asgardia’s development will continue irrespective of its relations with whatever countries.
– When in your view your negotiations with the Russian president can take place?
– As soon as we set out Foreign Ministry, we will address Vladimir Putin with a request for a meeting. As a Russian national, I would be most pleased if my native country is the first to recognize a space nation established by the Russians.
By Anna Oreshkina