Science & Technology

How satellites and blockchain go together

It’s been three months since Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining enterprise headquartered in Redmond, Wash., was acquired by the ConsenSys blockchain studio — and though the enterprise presently often called ConsenSys House hasn’t but take the wraps off its marketing strategy, one other space-centric blockchain enterprise simply may present some clues.

Singapore-based SpaceChain has been ramping up its exercise over the previous 12 months, highlighted by the launch of two nanosatellite-based blockchain nodes into orbit aboard Chinese language Lengthy March rockets in February and October of 2018.

Final month, SpaceChain stated it ran a profitable take a look at of space-to-ground blockchain transactions — particularly, the completion of a signature verification process that would theoretically be used for contracts.

“The multi-signature chilly pockets service – an software developed by SpaceChain engineers to check the house node – exhibits proof of know-how of being a possible cyber safety answer for the blockchain business,” SpaceChain co-founder and chief know-how officer Jeff Garzik said in a news release.

Right now, SpaceChain and the Arch Mission Foundation reported that one of many digital payloads saved aboard the satellite tv for pc launched in October was Arch’s Orbital Library, containing an entire copy of Wikipedia.

“The Orbital Library on SpaceChain’s satellite tv for pc is the start a hoop of backup knowledge orbiting across the Earth, and constitutes the primary extraterrestrial archive and first step in establishing extra Arch libraries that may protect human data and tradition,” Nova Spivack, co-founder of the Arch Mission Basis, said in a news release. “By means of huge replication across the photo voltaic system we can assure that the Arch Libraries won’t ever be misplaced – even tens of millions to billions of years sooner or later.”

The muse can be planning to ship installments of its Lunar Library Undertaking for archiving on the moon’s floor. The primary installment is being positioned on SpaceIL’s lunar lander, and the second installment will fly to the moon on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander as early as subsequent 12 months.

It’s attainable so as to add to the Orbital Library because the archive expands.

“We assist the Arch Mission Basis’s aim of preserving data for future generations and are excited to play a component in attaining that mission via our satellite tv for pc know-how,” SpaceChain co-founder and CEO Zee Zheng stated. “As launch prices are decreased, we’re capable of obtain necessary missions like Arch’s and alternatives in house that had been by no means earlier than attainable.”

One of the best-known blockchain purposes must do with cryptocurrency, however the know-how can be used as well for non-currency applications resembling verifying the provision chain for a given product, or guaranteeing {that a} doc or a database hasn’t been surreptitiously tampered with.

In a collection of solutions to emailed questions, SpaceChain CEO Zee Zheng defined why space-based operations add a profit to blockchain. Right here’s the Q&A, with apologies for Zheng’s crypto-geeky references to doubtlessly arcane features of blockchain know-how:

GeekWire: This is able to be a solution to conduct safe transactions in house, proper? For instance, an individual may retailer cryptocurrency in a satellite tv for pc constellation reasonably than relying on a terrestrial, internet-connected community that might be vulnerable to pilfering (as we’ve seen with past cryptocurrency scandals)?

Zee Zheng: “Sure, through the use of a node in house we take away the bodily assault vector in addition to a excessive diploma of safety on the supply-chain assault vector (given how a lot testing and evaluation is required to place a tool in house), and our {hardware} and software program doesn’t work together with the web. As an alternative, it solely interacts with our satellite tv for pc payloads, eradicating a big hacking assault vector, and utilizing a 2/3 multi-signature transaction construction, customers retain full management of their funds.”

“Right here’s how a multi-signature transaction would work. After deciding on the SpaceChain house multi-signature service, the person will get the pockets deal with public key of a House Node. The person can generate a 2/3 multi-signature pockets deal with on the consumer together with his personal pockets deal with, alternate contact pockets deal with, and the House Node pockets deal with.

“The position of the alternate contact pockets deal with is that if there’s a drawback connecting with the House Node, the person can allow the non-public key of the alternate contact pockets deal with to retrieve the encrypted forex within the multi-signature pockets deal with. When the person desires to provoke a transaction, the consumer first transfers the cryptocurrency to the multi-signature pockets deal with. After the person indicators the affirmation together with his non-public key, the transaction that completes the signature is distributed and acquired from the House Node, and then broadcast to the Qtum blockchain.”

GeekWire: I do know Qtum [pronounced like “quantum”] is a blockchain system that can be utilized for cryptocurrency or different blockchain-secured purposes … If you happen to may present some examples of potential purposes … that might be an ideal assist. Additionally, it’d be good to reply the query about why house reasonably than terrestrial-based blockchain programs.

Zee Zheng: “We’re envisioning purposes like ultra-secure encrypted messaging, a space-based distributed knowledge heart, and so on. And naturally we can facilitate blockchain transactions in rural areas, oceans and locations that terrestrial community is just not accessible.”

GeekWire: I assume there’s a hyperlink between Qtum and SpaceChain, simply as there’s a hyperlink between Ethereum and ConsenSys House?

Zee Zheng: “Qtum is certainly one of our companions and early supporters, and we’ve plans to make good use of their sensible contract capabilities. Nonetheless, we’re additionally integrating ETH [Ethereum] and different public chains. So we’re not unique with Qtum, we’re open to all of the open-source know-how so long as it suits our imaginative and prescient.

“We’ve got had some interactions with the ConsenSys workforce and are excited that extra persons are engaged on blockchain + house. We look ahead to listening to their updates.”

For what it’s value, SpaceChain and ConsenSys aren’t the one corporations engaged on blockchain + house. A report published today by Asia Times lays out the main points on a number of different blockchain-related house ventures, together with Blockstream in Canada, Supreme Global Holdings in Sri Lanka and Malta, Space Impulse in Estonia and XYO Network in San Diego. XYO is planning to have its EtherX satellite launched into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, doubtlessly late this 12 months.

Backside line? When ConsenSys House unveils its blockchain technique, it’ll be taking an enormous leap into what’s already a busy frontier.

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