Igor Ashurbeiyli has some grand plans. His dream is to build a sovereign nation in orbit aboard a massive space station. Its citizens will be “free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws” and must apply for citizenship.
Apparently Ashurbeiyli believes that science is too constrained by terrestrial laws and “economical and political considerations often take precedence over purely scientific
ones and ethical boundaries are considered necessary to sustain safety.” I don’t like to put words in peoples’ mouths, but it seems to me that he views things like ethics and morals to be things that are holding the human race back. His goal is that this country/station will eventually house 150 million people – yes, 150 million – and is looking to crowdfunding to help finance the endeavor.
Putting the whole “let’s throw out morals and ethics” argument to the side, let’s just take a quick look at the costs required to launch an orbiting colony of that magnitude.
First, you’ve got to get the station into orbit – or get the materials there and build it in place. Currently, the most efficient planned habitation module is the inflatable Bigelow Aerospace BEAM 330. It has 330 cubic meters of interior usable volume and according to the Bigelow web site can house six people for long duration missions. It weighs in at 20 tons. That means that just for housing, Ashurbeiyli has to launch the equivalent of 25 million of these things, totaling a cool 1/2 billion tons. Advanced launch systems hope to get the cost of launching stuff into orbit as low as $2 million per ton – let’s even cut that in half. It still leaves you with a cost of 500 trillion dollars. And that’s just to launch the stuff.
Now you get to the cost of building the station. The Destiny module on the International Space Station cost $1.2 billion. Assuming that the cost of a module would come down considerably, let’s say the cost of each of the 25 million modules drops to a tenth of that. Add on another $3000 trillion to the mix.
Then you have to remember that the citizens of Asgardia won’t be highly trained astronauts chosen for their ability to live in cramped confines with other people for long periods of time. They will need their personal space, recreational areas, logistics and operational facilities, and a whole lot of food production. It’s safe to assume that you’d need to at least triple the cost for a total of $10,500 trillion. And we can’t forget the, call it 1/2 ton per person of body weight and personal effects for another $75 trillion.
Let’s even say that asteroid mining totally takes off and most of the materials could be produced in space, potentially dropping the price to a tenth of what I calculated. That’s still $1,058 trillion, or roughly 250 times the current annual budget of the United States. That’s a lot of crowdfunding.
Do you want to be a citizen of Asgardia? Go to Asgardia.space and apply. Already more than 200,000 people have done so. Forget the fact that this could never happen in our lifetime…