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Why ‘Asgardia’ Is More Likely to Be a Pie in the Sky Than a Nation in Space

Asgardia is calling for unrestricted research but history has given us many examples where this has resulted in unacceptable consequences.

I have become citizen number 62 of Asgardia, a new space nation dedicated to expanding peaceful exploration of space for the benefit of humanity. It is led by Igor Ashurbeyli, chairman of UNESCO’s Science of Space Committee and founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre in Vienna. At first glance, it’s an amazing concept and surely one that every space scientist should welcome.

According to its website, Asgardia will offer an “independent platform free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws. It will become a place in orbit which is truly ‘no man’s land’”. Its first aim is to launch a satellite in October 2017, on the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. Another goal is to create a “protective shield” from threats to life on Earth, such as space debris, coronal mass ejections and asteroids.

The project, announced at a press conference in Paris on October 12, is urging people to sign up to become citizens. Ashurbeyli has said that when the number of applications goes above 100,000, the organisation can officially apply to the UN for the status of state. The claims are visionary – but could they be something of a mirage?

In Norse mythology, Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds of the ancient gods, ruled over by Odin. Set in the skies, it is connected to Earth by the rainbow bridge, Bifrost. In taking the name Asgardia for the new “nation state”, the founders call upon its potential citizens to create an independent world of peaceful scientific cooperation. I am not sure the mythological world of Asgard is the best model for such an aspiration: after all, the largest hall in Asgard is Valhalla, where warriors killed in battle spend their time feasting or fighting.

More fitting perhaps are the descriptions of Asgard in the fictional Marvel universe, where it’s a world that “exists in another dimensional plane and is about the size of the United States”. According to Marvel’s history, Asgard was created by the god Thor on Earth, where he had bought a huge piece of property. But Iron Man confronted Thor about his construction, “and after a short but heated debate, [Iron Man] proposed to Thor that Asgard would be considered a separate nation just like a foreign embassy”. I enjoyed the phrase “short but heated debate” – surely code for a punch-up. But a “separate nation just like a foreign embassy” is pretty much what the Asgardia of today is proposing.

The need to stay grounded

But when you turn your attention from the world of mythology and super heroes back to reality, things are a little less exciting. What, exactly, is Asgardia? What is it for? What will it do? How will it operate? What is its governance? How is it funded? The organisation has failed to disclose any such information.

We already have the International Space Station as an example of international collaboration in space, including both governments and private organisations. Although the ISS works well, it is regulated by international space agencies and wrapped in the associated bureaucracy. If Asgardia’s vision is to make space and experimentation in space more accessible, then that is laudable, but cannot be completely divorced from the necessity of some regulation.

When it comes to plans to defend the Earth from space debris we need a bit more substance than an aim to launch a satellite. Maybe I am cynical, but I’d like to know who is doing the work. Where is this satellite being built? How will Asgardia achieve something that no other nation, or consortium of nations, has come close to achieving?

I also have some worries about the wording in the Concept. In particular, it complains about the fact that “economical and political considerations often take precedence over purely scientific ones and ethical boundaries are considered necessary to sustain safety”. To combat this, it says “Asgardia will demonstrate … that independent, private and unrestricted research is possible”. To me, ethical boundaries are necessary – especially if unrestricted research is on the agenda and it is to be “free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws”. History has given us too many examples where unrestricted research has resulted in unacceptable consequences – the Nazis, for example, did a lot of unethical and unscientific research.

We currently have laws and treaties that govern the peaceful use of space, acknowledged by all space-faring nations and operated through the UN. They may not be perfect, and may be in need of revision, given the accelerating pace of space technologies and the increasing influence and role of private companies in space exploration. But at least they are a framework within which nations must operate.

Importantly, these laws state that the nation launching a satellite – or procures the launch of one – is liable for any damage caused by it. The office in charge of these laws also oversees the international register of all objects launched into space, and co-ordinates efforts to monitor space debris.

If Asgardia is serious in its desire to be an independent player in space exploration, then it must consider its duties relative to the UN treaties – any attempt to become a “launching state” or procure a launch for a satellite leaves Asgardia liable if something goes wrong. It is difficult to reconcile this with Asgardia’s declared aim of being “free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws”. No nation should be free to act completely independently of its neighbours – and by basing the idea of Asgardia in space, every nation on Earth is Asgardia’s neighbour. There is no doubt that space law is in need of an urgent update – but I don’t believe that acting completely independently of land-based laws is a useful way forward.

I hope that my doubts and concerns are groundless, and that Asgardia will indeed fulfil its promise to act for the benefit of humanity. Especially as by the time I had finished this article, the number of citizens of Asgardia had climbed to almost 20,000.

Current Affairs

Delhi-Based Couple’s Wedding Invite Is Going Viral..Here’s Why

A Delhi-based couple has decided to invite people to their wedding with their hatke invitations and it’s going viral on Twitter.

Marriage is a union of two people, who begin a new lease of life by taking vows and making their way into a beautiful commitment! To celebrate the unison, an extravagant affair is planned that last for almost a week. And when it comes to Indian weddings, people sometimes go the extra mile to make their D-day memorable. A Delhi-based couple is the latest addition to the list, who decided to invite people to their wedding with their hatke invitations.

Twitter handle, @Stuprous_doctor, a short while ago tweeted the images of a trendy wedding invite, said to be that of Suresh Kumar and Vidhya Priyanka BD, and Twitterati just lost it. Molded in the form of an iPhone, allegedly created by Kumar’s cousin, the invites is generating a hype for its interesting design. In accordance to a BuzzFeed report, Kumar said that despite the fact that theirs was an arranged marriage, it was speedy to bloom into love and they wanted to publicize their big decision in a “weird, quirky way” to the world.

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Your Thoughts

Meet this lucky man who gets paid to have s3x with prostitutes

‘John’ is 60, divorced, and gets paid to have s3x with prostitutes. Well, “more often than not it’s just a handjob” he says.

He is one of several private investigators being hired in Australia as ‘brothel busters’, who pose as regular customers in order to unearth illegal s3x work.

“I’m pretty sure plenty of fellas would be a bit envious of how I’m earning a bit of pocket money from time to time,” he told news.com.au, replying when asked whether it was a good retirement gig: “Oh, most definitely.”

His job is necessary because authorities have little power to access premises without a court order, making it difficult to bust the brothels posing as massage parlours that are ubiquitous in New South Wales.

John can provide them with highly graphic detail about the services on offer however, filing reports that can run for up to three pages and include dates, times, people, places, who, what, when, where and how much.

“It’s a document that will be used in court, so it has to be pretty detailed and very accurate. It’s not something you can waddle off in a couple of minutes,” he said.

More often than not, he claims, the parlours are fronts.

“If you looked hard enough, you might be able to find a massage parlour that doesn’t offer s3xual services,” he said. “In my experience there have only been three premises where I have gone in and not been offered that service some time during the course of the treatment.”

John notes that while some offer intercourse which he obligingly accepts, “more often than not it’s just a handjob. They just want to get it over and done with and get the next one in.”

Lachlan Jarvis, managing director of private investigation firm Lyonswood, is in charge of hiring undercover s3x investigators.

“We prefer people who are single, and obviously they have to be willing to undertake s3xual activity,” he told news.com.au.

 “I’m not surprised that some people would say that spending ratepayers’ money on the services we provide is outrageous, but they don’t understand that we help stop s3x trafficking, for example.”
John counts himself lucky to have what is a fairly relaxed and flexible job.
“It’s not your typical nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday job,” he said. “There are no time constraints, and there’s never been a stage where I’ve felt threatened or worried about my safety.”
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Your Thoughts

Once She was a Shepherd Girl In Morocco, Now France’s Education Minister! Inspirational Story.

Once A Shepherd Girl In Morocco, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem Is Now France’s Education Minister!
Everybody dreams of making it big in life but very few determined souls really act upon it. The story of Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is a testament to this, who overcame all the obstacles life laid at her feet and carved her own destiny.
Once a shepherd girl of four – who fetched water from the well – Najat moved to France with her family and faced the real world full of opportunities as well as struggles. The Moroccan girl who had no proficiency in French learnt the language by the end of her first year in college.
“The fact of leaving one’s country, one’s family, one’s root can be painful, my father had already found his place, but for us, for my mother, it was very difficult to get our bearings.”

Najat inherited hard work and resourcefulness from her father who laid strict rules for his daughters – no boys and no nightclubs till the age of 18. As a result, the girls completely surrendered themselves to studies.
Najat’s sister, Fatiha, is a lawyer in Paris.
While studying at the University of Amiens, Najat got the opportunity to pursue higher education with the prestigious Institut d’études politiques de (also known as Sciences Po). This set her on the path winding the political landscape in France.

Najat worked two jobs to take the financial load off her parents while pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration. It is during this time she met Boris Vallaud, a fellow student, and the two married in 2005.


Najat’s political career began with her joining the Socialist Party as an adviser to the mayor of Lyon. She later ran for elections and won the seat of the Councillor. In 2012, she was appointed as the Minister of Women’s Affairs by François Hollande, the then Socialist president.
In 2014, she served as the Minister of Women’s Right, Minister of City Affairs, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. In a major cabinet shuffle, she was promoted to serve as the Minister of Education. While advising the youth who want to participate in the country’s politics, Najat said, “I have always advised the youths to get involved in politics. The best way to be happy with your future is by playing a part in it. If you’re just a spectator of collective fate, you’re bound to feel frustrated.”

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