March 28, 2018
For very long time, space has always been a source of wonder and a spark for imagination. Since the beginning of the space race in 1957, people have been striving to leave this planet behind, if just for a few hours or days at a time. Technology has advanced exponentially since those first tentative steps into the cosmos. Now the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is exploring the potential of blockchain application development to improve space communications. Concurrently, private companies are already bringing blockchain technology into space.
Space communications present various gigantic challenges, such as disruptions and vast distances between stations. In addition, massive amounts of data need to be processed. As a result, communication systems must be secured, trustless, and decentralized. Thus, such systems must be supported by blockchain development platforms.
Let’s have a look at this example. At NASA, scientists have long been developing artificial intelligence for an unmanned spacecraft. But at the present, researchers have turned their attention to the blockchain application development. As it is known, the blockchain system allows modernization for many computational processes, which attracts new financing flows for the blockchain implementation of AI in spacecraft.
Concerning space communications, researchers are seeking to develop a Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm (RNCP) for space exploration. A summary posted at the University of Akron’s website reads:
“We will employ the blockchain technique to design a secure and decentralized infrastructure for processing the massive data for space exploration and related science. Our infrastructure will be designed to facilitate deep learning based data analysis. Furthermore, to achieve high scalability for the blockchain-based infrastructure, we will exploit the software-defined networking (SDN) technique and propose an adaptive management strategy.” (1)
In parallel, private enterprises continue to develop the commercial space market. For instance, several private companies are implementing plans for space travel, such as Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin. Some of these companies are even contemplating in their plans using Bitcoin as the payment currency, as well as Ethereum-based blockchain technology. The founder of the Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, announced that thanks to blockchain technology, space tourists would be able to pay for their tours in bitcoins. The Virgin Group claims to be the first commercial spaceline.
On the other hand, SpaceChain is building the world’s first open-source satellite network to enable a next-generation infrastructure for the blockchain industry. This non-terrestrial, decentralized satellite network will become an alternative for data transmission, storage, and application development. The SpaceChain open source operating system – SpaceChainOS, which provides a “blockchain sandbox” that any developer can utilize for rapid development, testing, and deployment of decentralized applications. In effect, cryptocurrency enthusiasts are excitedly waiting for SpaceChain to start launching CubeSats into space on February 2018 (2).
Storing data in space could also present developers with new possibilities. We have heard of people interested in putting data in space as a kind of neutral territory where it is not on anyone’s backyard. It’s a very different thing from what most people do with satellites. For the mass majority of operators, data in space does you no good, so you want to send it down as quickly as possible. It’s a new way of looking at it.
As shown by these projects, NASA and private companies are almost in sync, betting on blockchain application development to improve space communications and thus conquer the vast and mysterious reaches of outer space. Specifically, in the future, Spacechain is considering a subscription-like model where developers pay for storage space on the satellite and certain functions of the operating system’s API. Creating a token economy with crypto-coins – tentatively dubbed SpaceCash – is another option, though that’s still a work in progress. But to be sure, Spacechain is not alone in its efforts to merge blockchain and space industry.
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