The World’s First “Space Nation” Just Launched a Satellite Into Orbit

One Small Step for Asgardians

The Asgardia-1 satellite launched aboard the NASA commercial vessel OA-8 Antares-Cygnus from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to the International Space Station (ISS) on November 12. If you’re an Asgardian, you’d probably note the date as November 12, 0001.

In October 2016, Russian scientist Igor Ashurbeyl set out to create the first “space nation.” His creation, Asgardia, is now described on its website as a “space kingdom,” and the Asgardia-1 satellite is its first presence in space.

Piece by Piece: The International Space Station (INFOGRAPHIC)
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While it’s a rather small presence — the “nanosat” is barely the size of a loaf of bread — the satellite does fulfill a promise Ashurbeyl made to early supporters of his new kind of nation.

“I promised there would be a launch,” Ashurbeyl, who was present during the launch, told CNN. “We selected NASA as a reliable partner…because we have to meet the commitments that I made 13 months ago.” From the ISS, Asgardia-1 will be deployed into low-orbit space, where it will stay for around five to 18 months before burning out and disappearing.

Indeed, sending Asgardia-1 to space is an achievement for the space nation’s citizens, who are still based on Earth. The nanosat contained 0.5 TB of data from 18,000 of Asgardia’s citizens, including family photographs and digital representations Asgardia’s flag, coat of arms, and recently ratified constitution.

The launch of Asgardia-1 wasn’t just about fulfilling a promise or sending data into space, though.

To be considered for admission into the United Nations, a nation must meet four conditions. According to an Asgardian press release, three of those conditions — a constitution, a government, and a currency — have already been met: “Asgardia’s Constitution has already been accepted; its cryptocurrency, the Solar, is registered at the European Union Intellectual Property Office; and the government formation is underway.”

By establishing the nation’s sovereign territory in space, Asgardia-1 meets the final condition: a territory.

Space Nation-Building

Asgardia is as much a scientific mission as it is a social experiment.

Concretely, it’s a nation-building effort, which is why citizens are working toward recognition from the United Nations. However, whether they gain this recognition or not, setting up a space nation requires more than just a political identity. First of all, Asgardia has to actually be in space. Otherwise, it risks becoming just a group of people who think of space as their home.

Image Credit: Asgardia

To do this, Asgardia plans to establish an orbital space station and a colony on the Moon.“It will be a four-level orbital station. I think the technical details will be defined by the Ministry of Science, which I hope we will have in the autumn of this year,” said Ashurbeyl at a press conference back in June.

How long before that space station and lunar colony come to fruition is anyone’s guess, but the number of people joining Asgardia is quite telling. Today, there are some 114,000 Asgardians from 204 Earth-based nations. That’s a drop from the 211,000 back in June, but Asgardia is only including those who ratified their constitution.

With Asgardia accepting anyone above the age of 18 — even convicts so long as they are clear of charges — what the nation represents, perhaps, is a chance to start over and participate in the formation of an “ideal” society, whether it actually gets off the ground or not.

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Virtual nation Asgardia has launched itself into space

Last year, Russian scientist Igor Ashurbeyli announced the formation of Asgardia — a new virtual nation that will ultimately exist entirely in space. Since its debut, Asgardia has attracted over 300,000 registrants, created a constitution and, as of…
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European Nation Set to Be 100% Renewable in Two Years

Scottish Power Leads European Pace

Last week, Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly met to debate how the country could establish itself as a world leader in the fight against climate change. During the gathering, members heard how the nearby European nation of Scotland has managed to get on track to supply 100 percent of its electricity via renewables by 2020.

Over the past fifteen years, Scotland has gone from garnering 10 percent of its electricity from renewables to 60 percent. The country hit its emissions targets for 2020 five years earlier than anticipated, and looks set to preserve that momentum going forward.

Scotland’s transition to renewable energy has been made without any negative impact on the country’s finances – its accomplishments serve to demonstrate that there’s no longer a need to decide between ecological and economic considerations.

Part of its success can be attributed to a focus on making sure that improvements were implemented in a way that had a positive impact regionally, as well as across the whole country. For instance, the government set a target for the construction of 500-megawatts’ worth of locally-owned energy generation plants. This was attained well ahead of time, so the goal has now been increased to 1,000-megawatts’ worth of facilities.

Clean Sweep

Scotland isn’t the only place looking to end its reliance on fossil fuels. However, most other countries aren’t quite as ambitious in terms of timescale.

In June 2017, an entire province of China was able to run on 100 percent renewable energy for seven days straight. This is part of a wider effort for the company to clean up its act when it comes to the environment.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
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In the US, California has pledged to make a complete transition to renewable energy by 2045, despite being the third-largest state producer of oil and gas. Similarly, the city of Atlanta expects to end its usage of fossil fuels by 2035.

These changes are taking place all over the world. Indeed, a recent study laid out a method for as many as 139 countries to become powered solely by wind, water, and solar energy by 2050.

Establishing the necessary infrastructure for this transition to take place will be no small feat. However, we’ve seen time and time again that the cost of holding off on these changes will be steep – as well as financial and broader ecological concerns, our current energy practices are prompting a loss of human life.

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New Zealand’s New Prime Minister is Promising a Zero-Carbon Nation by 2050

Going Zero-Carbon

New Zealand’s new Prime Minister elect, Jacina Ardern, is not wasting time to commit to fighting climate change. With the help of her coalition government, Ardern has set a target for New Zealand to become a zero-carbon nation by the year 2050. This includes promises to reduce overall carbon emissions and to offset what remains with international carbon credits and tree planting.

“I believe that this will be a government of change,” Ardern said Friday at a press conference after her first caucus meeting. “We have found allies in this parliament who wish to join with us in building a fairer New Zealand. A country where our environment is protected.”

Image credit: Pixabay/Creative Commons
Image credit: Pixabay/Creative Commons

Battling climate change is a topic of great importance to the people of New Zealand, one that crosses party lines. The move is part of a potential surge in the number of countries moving toward carbon neutrality.

Turning the Tide

Other nations have recently made similar pledges. Sweden passed a law early this summer to become carbon neutral by 2045. Not to be outdone, Norway has pledged carbon neutrality by 2030. Other nations, like the North American countries, have made promises to significantly curb carbon emissions within the next few decades, but stop short of pledging carbon neutrality.

Can We Come Back from Climate Change’s Brink?
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Scotland has pledged to become independent from fossil fuels as an energy source by 2020. Granted, this is a different pledge than making the entire country carbon neutral, but it will offset a great deal of carbon emissions for the country.

New data published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) shows some promise that the fight against climate change is working. The evidence indicates that CO2 emissions remained static in 2016.

Of course, this is not a signal that we should hoist a victory banner. On the contrary, it is proof that we can still make a difference — and should continue to do so. National pledges to become zero-carbon are great first steps, yet we must hold our leaders accountable to make good on those promises.

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One Nation Is Single-Handedly Inventing the Future of Transportation

What Does the Future of Transportation Look Like?

All over the world, the way people get around is changing quickly. However, it’s possible that there’s no greater hub for developing the future of transportation technology than the Netherlands.

The country is uniquely poised to facilitate this kind of work. It’s got great technological infrastructure, with complete 4G coverage that helps vehicles grab routing information and other updates quickly and efficiently. Moreover, it’s relatively small, making it easier to implement big changes to the transport network than it would be in a country like the US.

Coupled with strong governmental backing, these factors are incubating a lot of interesting projects that could have a profound effect on how the Dutch get from A to B.

From Hyperloop to Hire Cars

At the inaugural SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2016, a team from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands managed to come out on top in terms of overall score. The Netherlands is a promising hotspot for research into Elon Musk’s potentially groundbreaking new form of city-to-city transport.

Hardt Hyperloop was born out of the team that aced the SpaceX competition, and the company is now looking to push forward with the first commercial route using the technology. Hardt is collaborating with some of the biggest corporations in the Netherlands in an effort to construct a large-scale test facility by 2019.

However, we’re not just seeing projects that aim to completely reimagine transport. There are also ongoing efforts to use technology to improve upon existing methods of getting around.

In a major metropolitan area, it doesn’t always make sense to own a car if it’s only going to be in use every now and again. That’s why car sharing programs are so popular — and Dutch startup Next Urban Mobility wants to go beyond what’s currently available to produce a “Netflix for transportation.”

Such a platform would give users on-demand access to hub spanning everything from cars to bicycles, public transport to delivery drivers.

Using public transport also makes things safer because there’s fewer drivers on the road, and if self-driving cars become the norm, traffic accidents and deaths caused by them could go down substantially.

Green Machines

One major focus for the organizations looking into new modes of transport in the Netherlands is sustainability. Various governments are set to enforce a ban on the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles in the next decade. Alongside that process, there’s a lot of ongoing research into other ways of making travel more environmentally friendly.

Eurocarbon is producing composite materials commonly used in the automotive industry that consume up to 40% less energy, without sacrificing anything in terms of strength and quality. Solliance is producing high grade thin film solar panels that could harvest the energy that powers tomorrow’s vehicles.

Crucially, organizations like Connekt and Amsterdam Smart City are helping to forge partnerships between people from all walks of life and companies with this kind of expertise in order to promote projects that will benefit communities. The future of transportation is going to require collaboration between various different specializations, so bringing high-spec manufacturers together with the designers and engineers that might utilize their materials is hugely valuable.

The Netherlands seems to be taking a very proactive stance on the future of transport, in all its forms. In many ways, this is a win-win — the best prospects look set to make travel easier, faster, and safer, but they should also be a major boon for the environment.

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