A consortium of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and legal experts has announced plans to create the first ever nation in space.
The new nation will be called Asgardia - after Asgard, one of the Nine Worlds of the ancient gods ruled over by Odin in Norse mythology - and will be independent of any current nation state on Earth.
Asgardia will be built on a satellite, which will be launched into orbit in the Autumn of 2017 - 60 years after the launch of the first ever satellite, Sputnik.
It will have its own legal framework, flag and other symbols of nationhood, representing a new era in the "Space Age".
"Asgardia is a fully-fledged and independent nation, and a future member of the United Nations - with all the attributes this status entails," said Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, chairman of UNESCO’s Science of Space Committee and founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre in Vienna, who is leading the project.
"The essence of Asgardia is peace in space, and the prevention of Earth’s conflicts being transferred into space."
Under current international space law, including the widely adopted , states are required to authorise and supervise national space activities, including the activities of commercial and not-for-profit organisations.
Objects launched into space are subject to their nation of origin, and if a nation launches an object into space, that nation is responsible for any damage that occurs internationally and in outer space.
The Asgardia project aims to create a new framework for ownership and nationhood in space, which will adapt current outer space laws so they are fit for purpose in the new era of space exploration.
By creating a new space nation, the scientists hope to enable private enterprise, innovation and the further development of space technology to support humanity to flourish, free from the tight restrictions of state control that currently exist.