Issue #32 2023 Astronautics

Asgardia expands its reach

A 3D rendering of Asgardia’s proposed National Ark formed an impressive backdrop for the second ever inauguration of the Head of Nation.
A 3D rendering of Asgardia’s proposed National Ark formed an impressive backdrop for the second ever inauguration of the Head of Nation.
Clive Simpson Editor-in-Chief

Significant events continued to mark the progress of the space nation Asgardia in 2022, some six years after it originally came into being. These included completing the second election in its history of a Head of Nation for another five-year term. The election was held simultaneously alongside a referendum on amendments to the Asgardia Constitution. Both the election and referendum were held via the space nation’s digital platform and culminated in December with an inauguration ceremony beamed live from an impressive 3D reconstruction of the Asgardia National Ark.

Asgardia was established on 12 October 2016 by scientist, entrepreneur and social activist Dr Igor Ashurbeyli. Many people all over the planet supported him, became Asgardians or showed an interest in the concept of establishing a space nation.

At that time it was hard to imagine that, just six years later, the idea of a supranational state governed by space law, where political, national and other earthly conflicts can never be brought into play, would become so relevant.

Three years after Asgardia was founded, Dr Ashurbeyli stated that its primary mission for the next 25 years would be to facilitate the birth of the first child in space. “Humanity has to survive, even if its home planet is struck by some natural or human-made disaster,” he said.

“Only being in space and developing a fully-fledged life-support system there, including artificial gravity and protection from space radiation, gives us a hope of surviving. Asgardia has set the development of appropriate technologies as its scientific goal. But most importantly, before fully exploring the Earth’s orbit and deep space, people need to learn to live and interact based on space values and philosophy here on planet Earth, otherwise they will not be able to survive in space and even the most cutting-edge technologies will be of no use,” Dr Ashurbeyli added.

“This is why Asgardia was founded in the 21st century’s second decade: humanity needs time to prepare for its future in space.”

The sixth year in the history of Asgardia the space nation has seen a number of significant and historic accomplishments, the key ones of which are reflected below.

Dr Igor Ashurbeyli takes the oath at the Head of Nation inaugration ceremony.Dr Igor Ashurbeyli takes the oath at the Head of Nation inaugration ceremony.

A strong Constitution

The Asgardian Constitution was originally adopted in 2017 by popular vote and in the years following Asgardia gained practical experience based on it. As a state, Asgardia had become a digital democracy without experiencing the historical periods of a traditional nation’s development.

It was challenging to take into consideration all the nuances required by primary law which is why, on 9 September 2022, a digital Referendum on amendments to the Constitution was held. Among other things, the age requirement for the right to run for Parliament and to hold office in other government bodies of Asgardia was lifted.

A principal amendment was the constitutional anchoring of Asgardia’s primary mission - the birth of the first human child in space. The space nation is working towards an isolation experiment on the ground, simulating a year-long spaceflight involving several married couples of volunteers who would conceive and give birth in conditions as close to those in orbit as possible.

Inauguration of Head of Nation

The re-inauguration of Asgardia’s Head of Nation Dr Igor Ashurbeyli was held on 13 December 2022, with the swearing-in ceremony taking place for the first time in a digital format and broadcast live. It followed the first historic inauguration ceremony that was held on 25 June 2018 at the Hofburg, the Habsburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, where Asgardia has its headquarters.

December’s first-of-its-kind broadcast was beamed live from an impressive 3D reconstruction of the Asgardia National Ark, a future facility that will become the space nation’s physical and habitable location orbiting Earth.

Asgardia’s stated aim is to unite humanity into a transnational, progressive society that will include two percent of the population of planet Earth and become one of the top 12 world economies. More than one million people around the world have already joined.

The Asgardian Constitution.The Asgardian Constitution.

Speaking at the inauguration, Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, who won an overwhelming majority of 93.17 percent in the election, said: “Looking at the way humankind is polarised today, I appeal to all Asgardians as citizens of their Earthly countries. You are our future. You are called upon to be those who will end hostilities and wars on planet Earth and strive into the infinite Universe. Alone, neither nations, nor peoples, nor even their coalitions, can create the universal harmony we so desperately need. Only the evolution of each and every one will fill our common world with love.” (See the Foreword on page 3 for a full transcript of his address).

The inauguration ceremony was hosted by Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, a Romanian cosmonaut and Asgardia’s Head of Administration to the Head of Nation. It also included speeches from Lembit Öpik, Asgardia’s Chairman of Parliament; Lena De Winne, Prime Minister of Asgardia; and Dr Yun Zhao, the Head of the Supreme Court of Asgardia.

The broadcast was watched by ambassadors from countries around the world, representatives of a number of major public organisations affiliated with United Nations structures, Asgardian Members of Parliament, government, court and other civil servants of Asgardia, its residents and other Asgardians, astronauts, space industry managers, scientists, international lawyers and media from all over the world.

“Almost five years ago, I had the honour to stand on the Hofburg’s stage for the occasion of the first inauguration of the Head of the first Space Nation in the history of humankind, Asgardia,” said Lembit Öpik. “This was a moment in history that defined the evolution of a new society - one based in space. Today I am proud to take part in the second inauguration of our Head of Nation. And on this solemn occasion, we can celebrate the achievements of the Parliament of Asgardia over the past period.”

Lena De Winne, Prime Minister of Asgardia, said: “We, the government of Asgardia, will continue to perform our executive work fully in line with the Constitution of Asgardia to grow its economic, scientific and technological base for the benefit of all the people, their equality, peace and prosperity. For one humanity and one unity.”

In his opening remarks Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu said: “We are all here because we believe in something bigger than ourselves. Something that transcends borders and boundaries. Asgardia is the world’s first ever space nation. We all come from different continents, speak different languages, but share the same dream. To unite people in an equal and progressive society. To build a new home for us in space and protect our cradle - Planet Earth.”

Domitru-Dorin Prunariu introducing the Head of Nation inauguration to a global audience...Domitru-Dorin Prunariu introducing the Head of Nation inauguration to a global audience from the Earth orbiting Asgardia virtual Space Ark.

National election

The inauguration ceremony was preceded on 9 September 2022 by the second Head of Nation election in its history which delivered an overwhelming majority of residents in favour of re-electing Dr Ashurbeyli for a second term.

Any resident of Asgardia meeting the criteria set forth in the Constitution had the chance this year to run for the position of Head of Nation. Dr Ashurbeyli submitted his nomination to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) for a second term in April and as no other candidates were proposed voting was held using the options ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘abstain’.

Asgardia’s CEC, under the chairmanship of chief legal adviser Markus Gronbach, reviewed the Counting Commission’s report on the results of the electronic voting conducted via Asgardia.space on 9 September 2022 and confirmed that Dr Ashurbeyli had been elected as Head of the Nation for Asgardia for a new five-year term. The voting results for the election were 93.17 percent in favour, with 3.45 percent against and 3.38 percent of eligible voters abstaining.

At the same time, for proposed amendments to the Constitution, votes cast in favour were 89.35 percent and those against 10.65 percent. As a result, meaningful changes were made to 20 clauses, which is less than 10 percent of their total number. The full text of the Constitution is available on Asgardia’s national website - https://asgardia.space/en/constitution/

New laws adopted

During 2022, the Asgardian Parliament held four three-day digital sessions and voted to pass three pieces of legislation: the Government Act (its principal drafter being Prime Minister Lena De Winne); the Dispute Resolution Act (its principal drafter being the Ministry of Justice led by Mark Beer, with input from the parliamentary Justice Committee and directly from its Chairman, Salvos Mouzakitis and Deputy Chair Peter Maughan); the Standards Act (its principal drafter being the Manufacturing Committee chaired by Fernando Jimenez Motte, with input from the Ministry of Manufacturing headed by Jacob Mulder).

Parliamentarians also worked through legislative initiatives during their weekly Legislative Forums. Elections for current Asgardian Members of Parliament (AMP), whose terms of office expire in 2023, will be held in the late spring.

Scientific projects underway

To achieve its primary mission over the next 25 years of achieving the birth of the first baby outside of the confines of Earth, Asgardia is working to find the tools to protect the female body from the negative factors associated with being in space, including zero gravity, cosmic rays and long-term isolation.

On 4 November 2021, as part of a cooperation agreement with the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IBMP RAS), Asgardia entered the SIRIUS-21 international isolation experiment (see article ‘Studying the effects of simulated spaceflight on the female body’, page 68).

Over the subsequent eight months, the ‘Assessment of the Effects of Isolation as a Spaceflight Factor on Immunological, Biological Status, and Mineral-Bone Metabolism in the Female Body’ programme was implemented.

The overall SIRIUS programme is conducted jointly by IBMP in cooperation with NASA and other partner organisations, as well as researchers and specialists from the United States, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Japan. The SIRIUS Chief Project Manager, Dr Mark Belakovsky, is also an AMP and the holder of Asgardia’s national award, the Gold Medal ‘For Achievements in Space Exploration’. Asgardia resident, vascular surgeon and SIRIUS-21 crew physician Victoria Kirichenko, supervised the pioneering joint programme between Asgardia and IBMP.

The SIRIUS-21 project crew spent a total of 240 days in isolation onboard the unique IMBP RAS test station, where the conditions of a long-term human space mission were simulated for biomedical and psychological studies.

Second national award

The first honoree of the Head of Nation’s Certificate of Recognition (established by Decree No. 61 dated 5 July 2022) was Victoria Kirichenko, Asgardia resident, space researcher and SIRIUS-21 crew physician. She received the award on 6 July 2022, three days after completion of the SIRIUS-21 experiment isolation phase.

Mohammed Izmir bin Yamin and Dr Egbert EdelbroekMohammed Izmir bin Yamin (Founder, CEO & CTO, Independence-X Aerospace) and Dr Egbert Edelbroek (Founder & CEO, SpaceBorn United, and Asgardian MP) sign an agreement during IAC 2022 in Paris, France, for a space embryo bio-tech mission.

International agreement

During 2022, Dr Ashurbeyli signed an agreement on behalf of Asgardia with SpaceBorn United and an international group of companies as the precursor to conducting joint research in the field of space embryology.

“A big step has been made towards accomplishing Asgardia’s mission. We will keep on supporting and initiating international scientific projects bringing us closer to our primary goal,” he said after the signing ceremony.

SpaceBorn United, based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, is the first bio-tech and mission development company working to make human conception and embryo development in space feasible, eventually enabling human pregnancy and birth in space.

The firm is headed by Dr Egbert Edelbroek, who is also an AMP for Asgardia. In September he signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Izmir bin Yamin, CEO of Malaysian re-entry capsule manufacturer Independence-X Aerospace (IDXA), which paves the way for an initial flight next year of the Assisted Reproduction Technology in Space (ARTIS) mission which will test a Space-Embryo-Incubator’ flying in low Earth orbit (LEO).

The payload contains rodent male and female reproduction cells and, once deployed in LEO, the embryos are automatically impregnated and start developing in an artificial, Earth-like level of gravity. After five days the incubator is returned to Earth via the Independence-X re-entry vehicle, known as MERCAP (Microgravity Experiment Re-entry Capsule).

In laboratory conditions back on Earth, the embryos will be placed in healthy mouse pups for gestation and birth to occur, their development monitored and compared to control samples.

“This is fully in line with our stated goal of facilitating the first human birth in space,” said Dr Ashurbeyli. “If humanity wants to become a multi-planetary species we also need to learn how to reproduce in space. This is what Asgardia is working towards.”

Education platform

The Asgardian government arranged and hosted a total of 13 open webinars during 2022 where international experts addressed and discussed topical matters of interest for various Asgardian and space groups.

Webinar subjects included international space law, the basics of nation-building, NFT, cryptocurrency, the world’s most progressive education methods, and humans in long-term spaceflight. During live broadcasts Asgardian residents had the opportunity to ask experts direct questions.

Dr Igor Ashurbeyli with Mark Bogen Minister of Finance Daniel Ojdanic Asgardian resident Lena De Winne Prime Minister Markus GronbachDr Igor Ashurbeyli with (from left) Mark Bogen, Minister of Finance, Daniel Ojdanic, Asgardian resident, Lena De Winne, Prime Minister, Markus Gronbach, Senior Legal Advisor to the Head of Nation, and Saltanat Shalakhmetova, Chair of the Counting Commission, during meetings in Vienna.

New digital projects

On the initiative of Asgardia’s government and with direct participation of its members, several test digital platforms were launched in 2022 and are being developed for further integration into the Asgardian national website. These include:

  • The Office of Information Security & Technology of Asgardia platform run by the Ministry of Safety and Security
  • AIS, Asgardia’s emerging Institute of Standards website, hosted by the Ministry of Manufacturing
  • Asgardia.trade, an Asgardia business registration and support platform developed by the Ministry of Trade and Commerce
  • Asgardia TV, a national channel created by the Ministry of Information & Communications broadcasting live Parliament sittings and Government webinars.

Additionally, two meetings of the Supreme Space Council and two summits were held in Corfu, where the Head of Nation met with representatives of various branches of the nation’s power.

Most events in Asgardia take place in a fully digital or a mixed format, with some participants physically present at the meeting and others attending via conference call.

Members of Asgardia’s government meeting via Zoom.Members of Asgardia’s government meeting via Zoom.

Strategic development

In November, Dr Ashurbeyli, welcomed Chairman of Parliament Lembit Öpik, Prime Minister Lena De Winne, Deputy Head of his Administration & Senior Legal Advisor Markus Gronbach to the Asgardia Headquarters in Vienna, holding a series of meetings to take stock of the year and develop strategic plans for the key areas of Asgardia in 2023 and beyond.

Particular attention was paid to the work of Parliament where a number of important legislative proposals are currently being drafted. These include the Space Act, the first draft of which was debated at XVIII Parliament Sitting on 9-11 December 2022, which the Science Committee had been working on for over four years.

During 2022, the Dispute Resolution Act, laying the groundwork for Asgardia’s future as an international arbitrator, and the Standards Act were passed by the Parliament at their third reading. Both documents had been developed in close collaboration between core committees and ministries, and have been passed into effect by Head of Nation Decrees Nos. 65 and 66.

The Government’s contribution to building communications within the Asgardia community over this past year - developing its national AsgardiaTV channel, holding regular public webinars on topical matters of interest to Asgardians and Residents, featuring world-class experts - was also acknowledged.

One of the key events of 2023 is the Parliamentary election. As per the Constitution of Asgardia, AMPs are elected for five years, a term that will expire on 24 June 2023, which will mark the five-year anniversary of the first-ever Asgardian Parliament sitting. At the Vienna meetings, they discussed launching preparations and setting potential dates for the upcoming elections.

Presentation of first Asgardia Certificate of Recognition to Victoria Kirichenko.Presentation of first Asgardia Certificate of Recognition to Victoria Kirichenko.

Asgardia book publication

The beginning of 2022 saw the print publication in English and Russian language versions of the book Asgardia The First Five Years which was produced to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Asgardia’s formation.

Subsequently the book has been translated into all Asgardia languages which have been published digitally and can now be downloaded on this link from the Asgardia website - https://asgardia.space/en/the-first-five-years

The book reflects all the milestones of Asgardian history over the first five years since its foundations were laid on 12 October 2016 in Paris, France, by its creator Dr Ashurbeyli right up to resident Victoria Kirichenko becoming an active participant in the SIRIUS-21 isolation spaceflight simulation experiment.

SIRIUS-21 gift edition

A digital version of a second book entitled Asgardia’s Role in the SIRIUS-21 Experiment - Diary of a Space Researcher, was also published simultaneously in English and in Russian via Asgardia’s official website on 12 October 2022.

The book, published for all Asgardians and people interested in the latest space research, is based around the fascinating diary of doctor, space researcher and Asgardian resident Victoria Kirichenko.

Writing in the Foreword, Dr Ashurbeyli said: “The mission of Asgardia, the first-ever Space Nation, which I announced on 12 October 2016, is to ensure the birth of the first human child in space to enable the infinite continuation of the human race in the universe. The global goal defines a number of specific scientific and technological challenges, without solving which, humanity will not be able to leave its earthly cradle and fully explore outer space: this includes, in particular, creating technologies for artificial gravity and protection against space radiation. Space embryology and the protection of women’s health from all the risks associated with being in space make an important part of our research.

“It is only by globalising space science, by bringing together scientists, entrepreneurs and ordinary people over the borders of earthly countries that humankind can achieve real progress in the exploration of outer space. We will support and initiate international space projects that bring our main mission closer.

“The influence of spaceflight factors specifically on the female body has so far received little attention in space science. The Institute for Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences is one of the few research centres in the world that is purposefully addressing this issue in order to accumulate sufficient statistical data to develop specialised medicines, technologies and methods. Asgardia’s participation in the SIRIUS-21 international isolation experiment, based at IBMP, is a big step forward towards the birth of the first human child in space.”

Chairing progress Parliamentary review of 2022

Asgardia’s Chair of Parliament, Lembit Öpik, reviews a year of steady progress for the space nation of Asgardia - the world’s first fully functioning digital democracy.

Looking back, I realise with a combination of surprise and pride that, already, Asgardia’s Parliament has been working for almost half a decade. In that time, we’ve generated a highly professional political system. But more than that, we’ve also generated a very strong team. In this short article, I’ll share a quick review of the highlights from this dynamic Parliamentary year.

During 2022 - officially 0006 in the Asgardian calendar - we held four Parliamentary Sittings, which collectively covered over a dozen different pieces of legislation. That’s been a lot of work for colleagues. It’s worth remembering that I’ve learned how to ‘do’ politics across four decades; but most Asgardian Parliamentarians have learned it from a ‘standing start.’ Their consistently impressive performance across the year is a credit to those who form our Parliamentary body.

Annually, Parliamentarians hold literally hundreds of meetings. These include sessions between Chairs of Committees; plus a weekly Question & Answer session for all Parliamentarians, which is now broadcast to the whole world in ‘real time’. I’d say that’s a key reason Asgardia has become a role model for online democracy. Nobody - anywhere - has previously achieved this level of competence in a digital democratic environment.

Over the summer, I was honoured to attend Asgardia’s annual ‘Corfu Summit’ with the Head of Nation, Prime Minister, Deputy Chair of Parliament and Head of Administration. We covered a vast array of issues and, after the isolation of the pandemic, it was great to have the face-to-face time with key decision-makers.

We also held a session of the Supreme Space Council (SSC) which addressed the Asgardia Constitutional Review. The constitutional referendum gave Asgardians the right to vote on the proposals, and led to important improvements to our Constitution - for instance, relaxing age limits for those serving in the Parliament and Government. That has a very welcome change by Parliament itself.

In Autumn, I was delighted when Dr Ashurbeyli was re-elected to the role of Head of Nation. As our nation’s Founder, Dr Ashurbeyli is the driving force in the development of Asgardia.

For example, thanks to the generous investment of our Head of Nation, Asgardia has experienced a huge increase in Resident numbers - a good sign for the year ahead. These increased numbers will add momentum to our nation.

Parliament also held lively debates about moral matters I’ve not heard any other body consider in depth. One of the most challenging was questions regarding birth and death.

These debates, led by Chair of Citizenship Committee, Ariadne Gallardo, rationally explored sensitive and fascinating matters of principle, including what rules should or could exist about termination of pregnancy and, at the other end of life, how to deal with the right to die.

In a wonderful example of mature debate, Parliament agreed to extend this discussion for a while longer. We need to recognise that for a journey to the stars, what we agree on Earth may be quite different to what the space travellers discover they must do on their epic voyage to faraway parts of the galaxy. Therefore, we need those intelligent principles, to help our voyagers make informed decisions en route to new star systems.

There’s been another interesting development in terms of the sophistication of the legislative agenda. For example, we had detailed consideration of something called the Asgardia Decentralized Autonomous Organisations Act (DAO), a highly complex but economically important piece of law. Elsewhere, top class Acts like the self-explanatory Asgardia Labour Act and the Asgardia Dispute Resolution Act formed the basis of our legislative framework.

As I’ve said before, I’m eager to avoid making laws just for the sake of it. Less is more - and if we can have a lightweight regulatory system, that will make Asgardia a far more attractive nation to live in than one with thousands of laws, which drag down economies and slow down decisions to the point of stagnation. Asgardia’s touchstones need to be speed and simplicity, and so far I think we’re striking a good balance.

There’s been an informal dialogue looking ahead to our next satellite - a project led by Asgardia’s Science Committee Chair Luca Sorriso-Valvo. It’s great timing. With NASA and its partners continuing our journey back to the Moon with its Artemis rocket - a leap forward in humanity’s return there - I think others are affirming Asgardia’s commitment to permanent human space habitation.

As the year entered its final months, I was able to meet with the Head of Nation, Dr Ashurbeyli, and Prime Minister Lena De Winne in Vienna one more time. Given the increasing rate of activity, this was a really productive exchange. Even though we’re good at getting things done online, sometimes the best way is a physical meeting.

With all this activity, I hope you will take the opportunity to become an Asgardia Resident - if you aren’t one already!

It’s a very good time to join our fast-growing nation, which has a robust vision of what we want to achieve, and how we’ll achieve it. For 100 Euros you can literally help to shape the future of humanity in space.

Oh, and one more thing. Next year we have our next round of Parliamentary elections and if you want to stand as a candidate, you need to be a Resident!

We’re really going places now and our democracy has already stood the test of six years of activity; so why not get involved?

It’s true to say Asgardia’s goal to create a sustainable space society is very important for the future of all humankind. I’m so pleased I’ve been able to chair so much progress towards that target. So go on - join our stellar adventure and help make space history.

Editor’s note: full details of how to become a Resident of Asgardia are on the space nation’s digital platform - www.asgardia.space

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