Founders of the first off-world “space nation”, Asgardia, have been overwhelmed by the number of people who want to sign up as citizens.

After the creation of Asgardia was announced in Paris last October, more than 500,000 applications were received within the first 20 days, the team behind the project has revealed.

The numbers were so high it forced a change of the rules for those hoping to become part of the visionary plan to establish a new space nation with its own constitution and laws.

Asgardia switched to a stricter system that filtered out children registering without their parents’ permission, duplicate applications, people who refused to provide required information, and non-human internet “bots”.

An artist's impression of Asgardians living in space.
An artist’s impression of Asgardians living in space (James Vaughan/Asgardia)

The group, the brain child of billionaire Russian computer scientist Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, now has almost 200,000 verified citizens from around 200 countries, who have each received a Certificate of Asgardia.

In September, Asgardia will send its “foundation stone” into orbit. The micro-satellite, Asgardia-1, will carry personal data freely uploaded by up to 1.5 million Asgardians.

The launch, 60 years after the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, was sent into orbit, will mark the first small step in a programme to establish an independent space-based country recognised by the United Nations.

Dr Ashurbeyli said: “Asgardia-1 will mark the beginning of a new space era, taking our citizens into space in virtual form, at first.

An artist's impression of an Asgardian orbital station and manned space craft.
An artist’s impression of an Asgardian orbital station and manned space craft (James Vaughan/Asgardia)

“Asgardia-1 will contain data stored for free for up to 1.5 million Asgardians on board the satellite. These are historic days, and your names and data will forever stay in the memory of the new space humanity, as they will be reinstalled on every new Asgardia satellite we launch.

“Asgardia-1 is our first, small step which we hope will lead to a giant leap forward for mankind.”

One of the first Asgardian projects will be the creation of a network of satellites to protect the Earth from space hazards such as asteroids, solar flares and orbiting man-made debris.

Asgardia is named after the City of the Gods in Norse mythology. Its main aim is to develop space technology unfettered by Earthly politics and laws, leading ultimately to a permanent orbiting home where its citizens can live and work.

Asgardia-1 satellite due to be launched in September.
The Asgardia-1 satellite is due to be launched in September (NanoRacks LLC)

People can apply online to be Asgardian citizens via the website and those already recognised as citizens are now being asked to vote on key elements of the Asgardian constitution.

Asgardia-1, to be carried into orbit by a resupply ship to the International Space Station, will be roughly the size of a loaf of bread, measuring just 20cm (eight inches) long and weighing about 2.3kg (5lbs).

It will carry a solid state hard drive containing the citizen data and two particle detectors for measuring radiation levels in space.

Decisions on the Asgardia flag, insignia and national anthem are all due to be finalised this month.