Blockchain in Space
This blog post will cover:
- How can blockchain technology be used in space?
- What projects deal with space and blockchain technology?
- What are the challenges of using blockchain in space?
Despite having been around for quite a while already, blockchain still has a lot of undiscovered potential for many spheres. Luckily, many companies and projects know about the diversity of possible applications and have started using distributed ledger technology to improve the areas and make them more technologically advanced. In our previous articles, we covered blockchain in such spheres as fashion, healthcare, education, and banking. Today let’s discuss these technologies for the space industry.
How can blockchain technology be used in space?
In the past, space exploration was a pretty much exclusive sphere of governments because of the sheer cost of R&D and the risks that potential failures could bring.
In the modern day and age, we can see more and more privately funded initiatives. From space tourism to the exploration of rare resources – seems like outer space is one of the most prominent areas of development for the foreseeable future, much like blockchain. And the connection does not stop there.
Here are some of the applications of blockchain technology in space:
- Financing. Because of the complexity of the processes, those agencies that deal with the sphere of space need substantial investments. Blockchain has an answer to this demand in the form of initial coin offerings (ICOs) when possible investors have an opportunity to buy tokens of the space project they are interested in, and it acts in a similar way to crowdfunding.
- Logistics. The supply chain for building spaceships is as complex as it can be and full of risks. Located in different parts of the world, the facilities that are responsible for various parts of the tech-heavy products benefit greatly from the transparency and traceability that distributed ledger technology provides. Especially given how costly the mistakes in this area are.
- Space governance. The aspect of data sharing is vital in the space industry because it improves navigation, accelerates scientific discoveries, etc. It is especially important to those governmental bodies that will deal with space exploration in the future. Blockchain allows for a tamper-resistant and transparent way of sharing knowledge, which is not tied to a single jurisdiction. This has the potential for eliminating distrust between countries and will probably allow them to work together more efficiently.
- Data monetization. Space exploration brings tons of valuable information which can generate revenue for funding future missions. Owners have an opportunity to store the data on a distributed ledger and give access to interested individuals and companies through utility tokens.
- Innovation. Blockchain can be used in many ways to enhance the technologies used by such giants of the industry as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It has researched the opportunities of an Ethereum-based network for deep space exploration and a blockchain solution for improving communication between networking satellites.
What projects deal with space and blockchain technology?
- Blockstream offers a satellite network that broadcasts the BTC blockchain from space and helps frictionless functioning without interruptions. This has the potential to allow using Bitcoin even without a reliable Internet connection.
- ConsenSys Space is a part of the IT company ConsenSys; in 2018, it acquired an aerospace firm called Planetary Resources which aims to mine valuable materials from celestial bodies (e.g. asteroids). What is more, ConsenSys Space created a blockchain-based open-source database TruSat to identify and keep track of the positions of satellites in orbit to make sure there are no collisions or accidents caused by space debris.
- SpaceChain offers its clients new business solutions that incorporate both blockchain and space. For example, crypto companies can have their nodes sent into space to speed up their work. The firm also has a space-based multi-signature wallet technology. It helps users to keep their wallets secure thanks to satellite verification of their transactions.
What are the challenges of using blockchain in space?
While combining these two exciting and modern fields certainly brings numerous advantages, it still comes with challenges. First of all, the legal framework is inadequate for most of the developments. Space activities have a lot of intersections with military ones, so a serious governmental shift toward being more blockchain-positive is necessary for full-scale growth.
Secondly, as we have mentioned already, those initiatives that have to do with space are costly, which is why not so many companies can participate in the “gold rush” of the 21st century.
Finally, the European Space Agency (ESA) pinpoints “hype” around crypto projects as an obstacle to adopting blockchain technology because it might lead to unrealistic expectations and incorrectly allocated funds.
To sum up, the fact that both blockchain and the aerospace industry are spheres of the future makes them a good match. This has already resulted in many interesting innovative projects, and we have good reasons to expect even more to come. While not without challenges, this cooperation is actively researched even by large actors such as NASA and ESA.