A new race has emerged to put the blockchain in space. Space presents new opportunities for the expansion of blockchain technology to disrupt centralized internet infrastructures and bring about the global access of information to all. Both major corporations and smaller private names have already started to make great strides down this track, and here are a few of the space-bound projects that have been set in motion.
NASA has set its sights on using the blockchain in space with its future plans for deep space exploration. They recently awarded a grant of $330,000 USD to the University of Akron towards the research of blockchain technology to improve space communication. Researchers at the university are developing a Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm (RNCP) for space exploration.
The team provides a summary of the research as follows: “We will employ the blockchain technique to design a secure and decentralised infrastructure for processing the massive data for space exploration and related science. Our infrastructure will be designed to facilitate deep learning based data analysis.” Blockchain technology presents potential for automating crucial space operations and improving the robustness of data collection in space amongst other numerous projects.
No mention of space initiatives can be done without considering SpaceX. The company has made a name for itself in space exploration; with its most recent success of launching the world’s most powerful rocket–the Falcon Heavy–into space to dispatch founder Elon Musk’s Tesla sports car into an orbital journey venturing well beyond Mars.
The company also has immense potential of using their technology to develop the blockchain in space. SpaceX has plans to a build a constellation of 4,425 broadband satellites to create a global internet backbone. The low-orbiting satellites are expected to be deployed into space via Falcon 9 rockets starting from 2019, and they will be used to create a mesh network of inter-satellite links. According to Bitcoin.com, the prospect of this mesh network is significant to blockchain technology as it has the potential for better configuration of utilising Bitcoin nodes globally. “Mesh networks promise to build decentralised, ubiquitous, resilient, and community-owned network infrastructure,” explained Shaddi Hasan of UC Berkeley, in his 2013 masters thesis ‘Designing Networks for Large-Scale Blackout Circumvention’.
Earlier this month, Space Cooperative Inc., a worker-owned California Cooperative Corporation focused on space expansion, launched Space Decentral, a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) space agency that utilises blockchain technology to drive a citizen-led social network for spacefaring initiatives. Space Cooperative’s advisor Dr. Paolo Tasca, Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies at University College London, described the project as “a global space research lab where individuals and organisations can contribute knowledge and pool intellectual property in an open manner, and where revenue can be fairly shared among contributors.” Their platform aims to expand and democratise human presence through the blockchain in space by enabling participants to collaborate, crowdsource, and crowdfund projects and research efforts, regardless of organisational affiliation. For more information, read Space Decentral’s brief in their white paper
Qtum + Spacechain
Singaporean company, Spacechain–alongside the Qtum Foundation, the developers of an open source blockchain project focused on Decentralized Applications (DApps)–have recently announced their mission to carry Qtum’s blockchain software technology into space using a tiny, cost-effective satellite called a CubeSat. The satellite will allow users to build decentralized applications compatible with the Qtum’s blockchain ecosystem. The goal is to use the satellite to create a truly decentralized data distribution network, and eliminate the imminent issues that might arise with government-regulated technology infrastructure.
In August 2017, Blockstream commenced their efforts in making Bitcoin accessible to people across the globe, regardless of their access to internet or the quality of their connection. This is made possible with their Blockstream Satellite network, a service that aims to broadcast Bitcoin to almost anyone on the planet. Their new service will bring the cryptocurrency to places with limited data access, such as locations where internet is unavailable or where bandwidth costs are high. The satellite currently provides coverage to only four continents–Africa, North and South America, and Europe–but there are plans on extending the network to cover the entire globe. Dr. Adam Back, co-founder and CEO at Blockstream stated that: ” The Blockstream Satellite gives even more people on the planet the choice to participate in Bitcoin. With more users accessing the Bitcoin blockchain with the free broadcast from Blockstream Satellite, we expect the global reach to drive more adoption and use cases for Bitcoin, while strengthening the overall robustness of the network.”
Vector + Nexus
Nanosatellite startup, Vector, and blockchain developer, Nexus, have partnered up to host Nexus’ decentralized cryptocurrency in space via Vector’s GalacticSky software-defined satellite platform. By hosting the cryptocurrency through the blockchain in space, Nexus is no longer bound to a nation-state and can thus, create a foundation for a more decentralized financial system. Data will be able to be distributed across multiple satellites for improved reliability and performance. This peer-to-peer network will be used to accelerate the company’s mission of providing more transparency in the access of global financial services.
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Image credits: GoodManPL (Pixabay), NASA/JPL, and SpaceX (Flickr)
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