X

Asgardia, the 'World's First Space Kingdom,' Could Soon Crash Back to Earth

According to satellite tracking providers, Asgardia's cubesat is expected to burn up in the atmosphere this month.

img-20200924-185317
img-20200924-185317
Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read
satellite-asgardia-1-space-kingdom-of-asgardia

A rendering of Asgardia-1. 

Asgardia

Humanity's first space nation is on the verge of losing its lone piece of self-declared sovereign territory in space. 

According to tracking data from the US Space Force and other sources, the Asgardia-1 satellite is expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere and burn up as soon as Sunday. 

The orbiter is the centerpiece of the experimental digital nation dubbed Asgardia that launched in 2017. In addition to representing Asgardia's toe-hold on its literally extraterrestrial territory, the milk carton-size cubesat carries digital copies of Asgardia's Constitution, flag and data about Asgardian "citizens" who opted into the experiment in digital nation-building. 

According to a statement, the satellite also has a scientific mission to study the impact of space radiation on digital data storage.

Updates from the US Space Force Space-Track database dating back to July 20 show that Asgardia-1's altitude has been decaying, which is space-speak for the satellite being pulled back toward Earth's atmosphere by our planet's gravity. The most recent update predicts it will reenter the atmosphere and burn up on Sept. 14. 

Satview, another site that tracks space junk, predicts Asgardia-1 will reenter even sooner, on Sept. 11. 

A representative for Asgardia said they were "looking into it" and had no further comment. 

It's unclear what the loss of Asgardia-1 could do for the digital nation's goal of becoming a recognized state, or its longer-term goal of seeing the first human born in space under its flag. 

The United Nations does not acknowledge Asgardia's claim of statehood and experts in space law have also said it cannot be decaled a 'space kingdom,' but the organization remains active online, with an election for the position of "head of nation" set to take place Friday.