*Pic: Dr Igor Ashurbeyli with the Asgardia front page
If I were to tell you that a Russian citizen, who was until 2011 the chief designer of some of Russia’s most powerful weapons, is now leading the charge to create a space nation, what would you wonder? 
Then, what if I were to tell you that in 2014 Dr Ashurbeyli was quoted in a Russian publication as saying, “We stand idle, bound by international treaties about a ‘peaceful space’ which no one observes, except for us. The militarization of space is inevitable. What’s more, it is vitally needed.” 
So who is the “we” and the “us” in that statement, for a citizen of the Russian Federation?
Dr Ashurbeyli is described as, “one of Russia’s foremost aerospace defence entrepreneurs and philanthropists,” who recently set up a “Maltese base for his Russian holding company Socium, which has on its payroll over 10,000 employees worldwide.” 
Socium was founded in 1988, and Dr Ashurbeyli moved to Moscow in 1990, where he became the CEO of SPA Almaz, until resigning in 2011, which designed and is producing the S-500 missile system. 
Has Dr Ashurbeyli transformed into a global citizen and peace worker, or does he remain a loyal Russian, and is he on a mission from the Kremlin?
IS SPACE TERRA NULLIUS?
When the United States won the Moon Race in 1969, they claimed the high ground in the Cold War, but after 1972 and with no Russian competition, US human space activity became limited to low Earth orbit.
When the Princeton physics professor, Gerard K O’Neill , proposed a plan for space settlement in the early 1970s, 15,000 would-be space settlers responded, but the US had no further interest in serious space development, and that which could have happened, did not.
In the years that followed, talk of colonising Mars raised global interest and action, as with the plans of Elon Musk to launch flights to the red planet for would-be Martians. 
Colonists will pay to go to Mars and survive there, and survive they must, or fail in the harsh environment, where no rescue can be expected from Earth.
Like the Viking Greenland colony, they will learn to adapt, or they will perish, which is what happened to the Vikings in Greenland when conditions became too harsh.
It would be a far safer path to launch space settlement closer to Earth and make it work near home, before going to Mars.
On October 12th the successful Russian business man, with global connections and 10,000 employees, who had led the work on Russian missile systems, declared a peaceful future for space with the launch of Asgardia and invited anyone on Earth who would like to, to declare their interest in becoming a citizen of the new space nation. 
The level of frustration on Earth in the lack of a space settlement option must be pretty high, as over 514,000 would-be Asgardians have declared an interest, and the number keeps going up.
Right now the Asgardia space nation exists mainly as a number of FaceBook pages, where there is chatter about establishing a land base on Earth, or building a floating island in the ocean.
Would Australia have any islands for sale, south of Melbourne?
HOW FAR EAST IS IT?
That a citizen of Russia with significant connections and background in Russia should launch the founding of a space nation, with clearly many Russian friends involved, should we wonder about what is going on?
In an earlier article I raised the question of what will Russia do next, following the taking of Crimea and the civil war in Ukraine. 
Left weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been reasserting itself and growing in strength.
At the same time we have watched China’s bold expansion into the South China Sea, and apparently, completely successfully.
If the East can create a global movement for settlement in orbital habitats, as with Asgardia, they will control who gets to go there.
And once established in space, built on global good will for new opportunities, the new lands in space may be declared as part of the Russian Federation.
New tricks are being invented in the bag and pulled out by the crafty Russians, as with Crimea, and the tragedy west of Moscow, and in Syria, which is far from over.
Anyone looking at the Asgardia website can see that the citizens of 244 nations have expressed an interest in being part of Asgardia, including 9,091 Australians.
The highest number wishing to leave Earth come from China, with 127,575 citizens seeking access to space, with the next highest being the US at 54,297.
If Asgardia falls over, China may decide that this is a really good idea, or is that the plan, for Russia, China and associates to build lands for the East in space?
If that is the secret plan and it works, human survival may be improved in the Universe, but history will wonder how and why the World’s leading superpower fell asleep.
In this new shift across land and sea, West of Moscow and south of Beijing, and now maybe taking the high ground above Earth, we may wonder if we are on the right side of history.
I raised the problem of the West dozing off on piles of wealth, and letting the East get the jump on us, with an article in August. 
So we can doze on and let the future roll over us, and get away from us, or we can wake up and act.
Many problems could be solved on Earth, if all the leading nations worked together to build a future for all Earth’s children in space.
Or we can allow a Russian missile maker to grasp the initiative and take the high frontier, and we will be left in the dust on Earth, wondering what happened.
FIRST SPACE NATION?
Dr Ashurbeyli claims on the web page for Asgardia, “For the first time in history a new nation has been created – not on Earth but in the heavens above.” 
An investigation reveals that Asgardia is not the first space nation.
On the 1st of January 1949 a citizen of the United States, James Mangan, launched a space nation called the Nation of Celestial Space, which grew to over 19,000 members. 
Celestial Space faded, but the dream of space lives on.
Working together, the nations could build a peaceful future in space, but if old ways of war roll on, we may be cursed with war from space.
In his 1966 SF novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein described a war between Moon colonists and Earth, fought by dropping rocks on Earth.
A Russian city was nearly taken out a couple of years ago, when a small asteroid exploded in the sky above. 
Tasmanians once lived in fear of a Russian invasion, and built coastal defences with great guns, which can still be seen at the Kangaroo Bluff Battery in Bellerive.
There would be no defence from a rock dropped from space.
We really do need to figure out how to build peace.
 Dr Igor Ashurbeyli
 Russian Ballistic Missile Defence: Rhetoric and Reality
Keir Giles June 2015 US Army War College ~ Strategic Studies Institute
The original story, in Russian where the quote appears ~
 Russian military entrepreneur sets up Malta base
Matthew Vella, 23 June 2015, Malta Today
 GSKB Almaz-Antey
S-500 missile system ~
 Gerard K. O’Neill
 Elon Musk just shared his ambitious 4-step plan for colonizing Mars with a million people
Dave Mosher, 25 October 2016, Business Insider Australia
Asgardia: Scientists unveil proposal for independent ‘space nation’ to explore space law, protect Earth
ABC News Online, 13 Oct 2016
October 18, 2016 News Plans for first ever Space nation “Asgardia” announced today
Room, 18 Oct 2016
 What Will Russia Do ~ NEXT?
Kim Peart, 6 Mar 2014, Tasmanian Times
 Can an Aussie Paper Cat survive a hungry Chinese Panda?
Kim Peart, 6 August 2016, Tasmanian Times
 Nation of Celestial Space
 Defending Earth from Space
Kim Peart, April 2013, Space Pioneers
FURTHER READING ~
Why ‘Asgardia’ is more likely to be a pie in the sky than a nation in space
Monica Grady, 13 Oct 2016, The Conversation
Asgardia: Probably Not Humanity’s Protector
Ian O’Neill, 18 Oct 2016, Seeker
Asgardia: First Space Nation Announces New Government Structure
Coburn Palmer, 22 Oct 2016, Inquisitr
The space journal Room is managed by Dr Ashurbeyli ~
Asgardia: The New Space Nation
Kiran Krishnan Nair, 20 Oct 2016, Room
Kim Peart was raised in Howrah from 1952, and watched the old farmlands transform into suburb. Finding adventure in Scouts and Army Cadets, Kim later pursued art and founded a Viking Society in Tasmania in 1975, seeking history and culture in the spirit of adventure. In 1976 Kim saw an ad for space settlement and signed up to be a space development advocate. Environmental matters came later and figuring out how we can live in harmony with Nature. Earth matters and space issues merged in 2006 when Kim wrote his document ~ Creating A Solar Civilization ~ exploring how we can only achieve a sustainable human presence on Earth, by building a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth. Kim now lives in Ross with his wife, Jennifer, from where they host global meetings with space advocates in Second Life, a virtual world, where people can connect globally and plan local action toward creating a celestial future, and winning back a safe Earth. Kim is the director of Space Pioneers and may be contacted at ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~ In 2014 Kim attended the first Silicon Valley Virtual Reality conference, where he met the pioneers of a new age of the Internet. The adventure has only just begun.