The Space and Crypto domains have a natural attraction to each-other. The Moon especially has an almost mythical status amongst crypto traders (when Moon??). Both domains require resilience and honeybadger style design. And both have uncharted waters, where no human being has gone before.
A number of Space & Crypto undertakings are going on, but not all make sense, although sometimes the technobabble behind it is quite impressive. My intent of this post is to point to a number of bad AND good ones that are happening. And please note, these are my personal opinion so don't take offense, but comment to the best of your knowledge and I can always change opinion!
Let's start with some of the bad ones:
- Consensys buys Planetary Resources (October 31, 2018). Consensys is a so-called blockchain venture production studio primarily involved in Ethereum. What I make of that, is that they create applications based on Ethereum. Planetary Resources on the other hand, is an Asteroid mining company that got backed by quite some rich people back in 2011, but didn't make it to a business. That is not very strange by itself. Mining asteroids for business only has a return on investment in a few decades. But Consensys buying Planetary Resources? I can't wrap my head around it. The hyped link here between asteroid mining and blockchain technologies is a bit fake imho. It is just two extremely exciting technical fields amongst others like: artificial intelligence, neural networks, biogenetic engineering and I am sure to have not listed all the singularity related fields. Of course in the far future, in the space based economy, payments for services (such as asteroid mining) will be done based on blockchain technologies, but that is not specific for asteroid mining. Also on Earth this will be the way we are going to do payments. But asteroid mining and blockchains? Just the addition of 2 buzzwords in 1 sentence for now.
- Space Decentral. A platform to develop, build and launch Space missions in a decentral manner. Again, I can't wrap my head around this. In a perfect world, with resources to survive, abundantly available to all humans, this could work. Untill then, a mission design without central coordination will lead to devastating interface problems. A satellite will be build that cannot fit on the rocket, and it will be launched at the wrong time, because some kind of consensus was reached between participating members? No. Not going to work for Space missions. Let's keep some things centrally organized....
Then some of the good ones:
- Blockstream Satellite. One of the powerfull companies behind Bitcoin is Blockstream. Back in 2017, they started the Blockstream Satellite project to increase resiliency of the Bitcoin network by leasing transponders on Geostationairy satellites to broadcast the latest blocks of the Bitcoin ledger. I am participating in this project as I have set-up my own satellite connection from Delft, the Netherlands. Read about my adventures in this link. The Unique Selling Point of Space is that you can create global solutions, so this Blockstream Satellite project is really spot on and clearly understandable why Space is part of the solution
- Low Earth Orbit IOT satellites. As geostationairy orbit is 36.000 km above the equator, it is relatively easy to receive signals from satellites hanging there, but difficult to transmit signals from Earth to Space. This is where Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Internet Of Things satellites come to play. These are shoebox size satellites that can be connected-to with relatively cheap hardware. Upcoming players in providing connections are Hiber Global and Lacuna Space. I foresee that future versions of these type LEO IOT satellites, will contain a processor that can receive navigation signals from GPS, Galileo, Beidou and Glonass, and with these establish a unique location based signature in Space. It can be verified that the received signals on Earth from these satellites were really broadcasted from Space, and therewith not been spoofed by adversaries.
Look forward to your comments and ideas. Really, a lot is going to happen in this intersection of field. Also institutional players like the European Space Agency (ESA) might be embarking on this. If you are from a ESA memberstate (Yes, Poland is a memberstate), and have some idea where crypto meets Space, I would be happy to partner up and make a proposal to ESA together! Feel free to contact me through www.eyeonorbit.com.