Bitcoins In Space: The Final Frontier

Mriganka Pattnaik
Oct 6, 2016 · 3 min read

A few weeks ago, a couple of adventurous Bitcoin enthusiasts attached a paper wallet to an air balloon and tried to send it into space. Once the balloon reached an altitude of 20km, they sent one Bitcoin to the paper wallet, thus making the transaction the first peer-to-peer transaction at that altitude. Thereafter, they beat their own record by sending another Bitcoin at 33 km.

Unfortunately this community engagement experiment didn’t actually manage to send Bitcoin into space: Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the governing body for aeronautics, puts the beginning of space at 100 kms. But it illustrates quite effectively the ease of transacting bitcoins, most probably even in space. This is also a gentle nudge to all Bitcoin fans out there, challenging them to break the record and actually try and send Bitcoins into space, both literally and metaphorically.

Having grown up on ample amounts of mainstream sci-fi shows like Star Trek and Star Wars, I can excitedly say that the colonisation of space by human beings might finally begin; not tomorrow, but soon. Imagine a world where Uber rovers transport people from SpaceX’s station in Mars to NASA’s station or where Amazon has an express delivery to other planets. Within a decade, companies will no longer limit themselves to being the best in the world but aspire to be the best in the universe.

Sending of Bitcoin into space would be like opening Pandora’s box, which will inspire a myriad of ideas for the application of Bitcoin in space, which once unleashed, can never be unthought! This might seem farfetched now, but a few years ago self-driving cars or startups attempting to colonise Mars would’ve seemed crazy too. We all know that an idea can change the world, but maybe soon ideas will start changing the universe.

It is interesting to note that, due to the comparatively nascent aerospace industry, commerce in space has never really been dealt with in a serious way. Even a Google search of “commerce in space” has absolutely nothing relevant. This is due to the fact that there are very few companies operating in overlapping regions in space, and hence transactions, if any, happen here back in Earth. But in our future, where there will be several companies operating on the moon or in Mars, it would be necessary for parties to make monetary transactions with each other in space itself using a different set of standards, rather than making them back on earth.

For this, a payment infrastructure and banking system has to be developed from scratch and anything linked to fiat currencies would be too archaic and restricted. Moreover, the difficulty and effort required for amending the laws related to the movement of any fiat currency like the USD for using it outside earth would be so arduous that they would slow down space exploration by several years.

The complexities of transactions in space might be the perfect opportunity for Bitcoin, the epitome of decentralisation, to swoop in and save the day. Though Bitcoin may still take several years to replace our existing banking systems, a brand new banking system for space will most definitely be built on the principles of decentralisation and interoperability of bitcoins, and will redefine how we view money altogether.

Most breakthrough achievements throughout time, have been born from nothing but a simple crazy thought. Experiments like these might appear to be insignificant but they are the sparks that ignite new ideas, pushing us to sit down and think. We can only imagine a fraction of the endless possibilities that this step might have opened up. Quoting a colleague of mine, “What a time to be alive.”

Disclaimer: I work for a Bitcoin wallet & exchange called BitX. The glorification of Bitcoin above is not to be construed in any way as financial advice but more of a unique take of future possibilities for our beloved Bitcoin.