- Courtesy Of Asgardia
- Lembit Öpik
A former member of British Parliament wants Vermonters to join him — in space.
Lembit Öpik is recruiting new followers and residents for Asgardia, a self-proclaimed space nation that's got its sights set on leaving Earth behind. The group has already launched a small satellite to mark its territory. And it boasts a million followers from around the world — including roughly 1,000 in Vermont — and "residents" who pay an annual fee for the honor.
Asgardians in Vermont are clustered around Essex, Stowe and Burlington, according to the group.
Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli founded Asgardia in 2016 and has funded the venture with millions of his personal fortune. The Russian scientist "was dissatisfied with the way Earth affairs are run by humanity," according to Öpik.
"He was in Canada when he came up with the idea that we could do the whole human community thing better if we started again, and took the best of what we do and leave the worst behind," Öpik said in a phone interview from London. "And do it in space."
Öpik said the group is aiming for permanent space habitation by 2043. And he thinks Vermonters are inclined to join up. In a press release issued earlier this month, the Asgardians stated that Vermont is ranks third per capita among all U.S. states in sightings of unidentified flying objects. And they wrote that 13,000 people work in the state's aerospace industry, which the group valued at $2 billion. It's unclear where those figures come from.
With a rapidly changing climate and a divisive political climate at home, who among us wouldn't yearn for space travel?
"Eventually, we have to carry on reaching out as species," Öpik said. "Otherwise, we end up trapped on Earth."
Öpik said Asgardians will eventually push for recognition from the United Nations.
"Aside from the Northern Ireland peace process, which I was involved in, this is probably the most important thing I've ever done," Öpik said.