The opening day of the first-ever Asgardia Space Science and Investment Congress (ASIC) clearly shows that the idea of the birth of the first child in space is taken quite seriously by leading scientists around the world.

ASIC 2019 was opened by Asgardia’s founder and Head of Nation, Dr Igor Ashurbeyli.

Asgardia is capable of bringing global democracy to space science. Scientists today are constricted by national legislation, which is often far from freedom of creativity, communication, travel, and has many other limitations,’ Dr Ashurbeyli announced. ‘This is unacceptable and unjust to humankind. Unlike the politically driven antagonistic states on Earth, we are able to step beyond artificially imposed limitations.’

The Head of Nation continued to describe how Asgardia will help overcome these limitations that significantly curb modern scientific development, and pave the way toward the birth of the first human child in space.

‘Our ideological mission has quite scientific foundations. There’s three of them: biological possibility, artificial gravity, and radiation protection. And from a financial standpoint, in the interest of all humanity, we are introducing the concept of the space child tax,’ Dr Ashurbeyli explained.

‘The lower levels of this scientific pyramid will be holding many scientific investment projects, the number and novelty of which we can’t even imagine today. And this is what Asgardia was created for – to unite the scientists and investors from all over the world for solving the global task of preserving the humankind in the Universe.’

Followed by applause, the Head of Nation gave the floor to Prof Floris WuytsPresident of the Congress and Asgardia’s Minister of Science. Speakers began a detailed discussion of issues related to childbirth in space.

The first Session was dedicated to artificial gravity, a topic seemingly far from mass appeal, but nonetheless crucial to the future of space exploration.

It’s been long known that prolonged exposure to microgravity (more commonly known as weightlessness) in space leads to the deterioration of various systems in the human body, like brittle bones or muscle dystrophy. Artificial gravity has long been proposed as a holistic countermeasure, supporting general health during prolonged exposure to microgravity.

MIT Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Apollo Program Professor Laurence Young, first speaker of the session, believes that artificial gravity will be crucial to astronauts in the future, especially those on long-term assignments like Mars missions. Prof Young says that a centrifuge aboard a Mars ship will help keep the crew in shape for the many months it would take to reach the Red Planet.

Unfortunately, studies conducted to create artificial gravity remain mostly in the realm of theory: no successful artificial gravity experiments have been carried out in space to date, despite their possibility being ‘described even by Tsiolkovsky.’

Dr Satoshi Iwase, Professor of the Department of Physiology at Aichi Medical University (Japan), shared the story of the cancelled AGREE project that was already planned out, and included installing an ergometric exercise machine aboard the ISS. However, according to Dr Iwase, a decision to revisit the project was recently made, and the experiment will be carried out in the ISS lifetime after all.

However, Dr Satoshi Iwase is quite the optimist regarding childbirth in space (procreation in space was the topic of the second ASIC session) — he believes that a fetus experiences a state similar to microgravity, making childbirth in weightlessness relatively easy. Of course, providing that threats like cosmic radiation are taken care of.

An even bigger space birth enthusiast is CEO and founder of SpaceBorn United (SBU), Dr Egbert Edelbroek. In his presentation, he expressed ideals close to Asgardian beliefs — that humans must learn how to procreate in space. SBU studies this issue with support from universities, industry partners and research centers. The company adapts research results to a step-by-step mission plan that requires creating biomedical equipment. The goal of these missions is to provide conception, embryo development, and, in the end, childbirth in space.

Dr Edelbroek underscored that SBU isn’t limited by political and economic factors that bind organizations like NASA, ESA or SpaceX. He also mentioned lack of ethical support as one of the factors slowing scientific progress down.

Is it any surprise that Dr Edelbroek’s thoughts resonate with the program the Head of Nation established in the beginning? Probably not. ASIC just brought like-minded supporters together.

The first Asgardia Space Science and Investment Congress (ASIC), held in Darmstadt, Germany, October 14-16, brings together scientists, aerospace industry specialists, and investors to discuss solutions to make humanity’s future in space possible. To ‘Pave the road to living in space,’ we need solutions to overcoming cosmic radiation, learning to live in artificial and lunar gravity, and, most importantly, human children must be born, and grow up, in space. The Congress also addresses topics like life support systems, space tourism, energy harvesting, recycling, human performance, commercial space transportation, space physiology, new materials, space architecture, counter measures, astrobiology, water and oxygen supply, space debris, and space weather.

Ivan Cheberko