Space is an area that has historically been studied by a few governments, being a complex issue that requires thorough, high-level research and, therefore, substantial funding. More recently, with the growing popularity of bold startups like SpaceX, space exploration has become a less exclusive area. Now, however, it seems that the main features of cryptocurrencies – blockchain, its core technology and the concept of Initial Coin Offering (ICO), its crowdfunding model – are bringing even more power to the previously un-shared territory.
Great players are adopting the space exploration blockchain:
Space giants such as Aeronautics and the US Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency ( ESA) are studying ways to use blockchain for their mission. The results obtained so far suggest that technology could be useful both on the ground (facilitating data-related processes, just as in other traditional institutions) and in space (contributing to navigate deep space).
In 2017 NASA awarded a $ 330,000 grant that supported the development of an autonomous, blockchain-based spacecraft system, which took its first step towards the adoption of the blockchain . Called the Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm (RNCP), the new system is based on the blockchain and requires no human intervention, since the grant beneficiary, Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis – an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Akron – outlines in its research synopsis.
As Kocsis explains, the RNCP will look into the application of the smart Blockchain contracts based on Ethereum in the development of a secure computer system that would be applicable for difficult environmental conditions:
"In this project, the Ethereum blockchain la technology will be exploited to develop a decentralized, secure and cognitive network and a deep space exploration computer infrastructure. Blockchain consent protocols will be further explored to improve the resilience of the infrastructure […] I hope to develop a technology capable of recognizing environmental and avoidance threats, as well as automatically completing a number of tasks. "
In addition, the RNCP system will exploit the smart contracts to build a spacecraft that will detect and play automatically and without hindrance any obstacle, since in the deep space the means of communication convene they become less reliable with the weakening of the signal. Therefore, Dr. Kocsis hopes that, equipped with this blockchain solution, spacecraft will be able to complete more tasks, provide more data and give scientists more time for information analysis, as they should not waste time to detect potential environmental threats. No specific chronology has been disclosed so far.
Small businesses enter the space where space becomes more democratic
Space is no longer exclusive for governments that have the means to constantly feed their research programs with money : With the arrival of low-cost satellites, the blockchain can be launched into space, cutting ties with an infrastructure that can not be completely decentralized – because it is still connected with fiber optic cables Facebook and Google. Here are some startups that hope to further democratize the cosmos, although it is worth noting that most of them do not have specific deadlines and are therefore rather immature:
The idea a decentralized and distant blockchain that is powered by satellites is not particularly new – a startup called Blockstream began to use the concept in 2017, when it announced its Blockstream Satellite Project, which aims to transmit blockchain to every person on planet Earth and he also performed his first transaction.
To run a space-based blockchain, Blockstream Satellite was based on open source technologies: its release quoted GNU Radio and Fast Internet Bitcoin Relay Engine (FIBER) as embedded technologies, while the FAQ elaborates:
"Anyone can receive the signal with a small satellite dish (similar to a consumer satellite dish) and a USB SDR (defined radio soft interface) […] The total cost of the equipment for a user is only about $ 100. The software is free. Software interface is the open source software GNU Radio, which is the receiver GNU Radio will send data to the FIBER protocol, which is the Bitcoin process and is where the blocks reside. "
Africa, Europe, South America and North America were the first regions where users could download a beta node – essentially, two-thirds of the planet had been covered. According to the state of the network, other regions have not yet been introduced.
Nexus is an Arizona-based startup that announced the so-called "world's first three-dimensional blockchain". In particular, the concept involves a satellite network that Nexus is developing in collaboration with Vector Space Systems. Its mission is "to provide global access to its digital currency and autonomous internet infrastructure using Vector's Galactic Sky software platform in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network", which is quite similar to projects mentioned above.
Nexus also emphasizes the importance of decentralization in a world dominated by giant multinationals:
"A space platform offers greater redundancy and security for decentralized applications, since satellites are resistant to regulation or control by of government and corporate bodies. "
In addition, the startup hopes to provide "reliable and affordable" Internet access via its blockchain satellite network, while the revenues raised by the commercial applications in the foreground will be used to pay for the maintenance and operation of the network , lowering costs for occasional customers.