SpaceChain AMA with Zee & Ziheng
SpaceChain AMA — Nov 14, 2019
On Nov 14, the community came together on SpaceChain’s telegram channel to ask CEO Zee Zheng and Technology Manager of SpaceChain UK Ziheng Xiang questions. We have compiled the AMA here from our SpaceChain English Community Telegram Group. Thank you for your participation.
1. Can you share the top three upcoming good news happening with SpaceChain?
Zee: Instead of three, I have one big news: Just to make an announcement that SpaceChain is having another launch in December. Details will be released soon so follow our social media @spacechain for the latest updates.
2. Besides the team, who will be present at the launch? Will there be a live show?
Zee: Most of the team members will be there for the launch. We are not sure if there will be a live show due to security reasons. However, we will be sharing as much as we can through our official channels.
3. What happened to the two nodes in space?Are they still alive? Do you plan to launch more?
Zee: The first node that we launched on Feb 2, 2018, has served its purpose and is no longer in operations. The second node that we launched on Oct 25, 2018, is still operational. The team is fully focused on our future launches. We have booked three launches in the next 18 months. The earliest one will be in December.
4. What’s the SpaceChain team like? How many people are there and where are they based?
Zee: We have team members in Singapore, China, UK and US. We have 25 employees and some other open-source engineers contributing to the project.
5. Will your platform migrate to its own blockchain or will the platform remain on the Ethereum blockchain?
Zee: We have no plans to build our own blockchain because we are focussing on leveraging the satellite platform to empower blockchains and their applications. We are integrating with blockchains, and the focus for the next launch is about Bitcoin.
And of course, Etherum and Qtum have also already been integrated. We are looking for more integration partners.
6. Why did you decide to build blockchain in China?
Zee: Thanks for the support. We are actually a Singapore-based company, although we do have team members from China. One of our products is launching next month together with the satellite payload launch, please stay tuned.
7. Why did you start as open-source project and now it’s not?
Zee: We are still an open-source project. In fact, we are actually one of the very few open-source projects in the space industry. However, due to security reasons and compliance issues, we cannot do open development like many other blockchain projects. The way we will go open source is to release our software and hardware standard after we havefinish the in-orbit testing.
8. Are you building a constellation of satellites? What’s the difference between a normal Satellite and one with blockchain?
Ziheng: One of our missions is to construct a decentralized satellite internet that involves a satellite constellation with blockchain nodes integrated within.
Blockchain introduces the decentralized technology, such as data distribution, decentralised communication as well as the crypto economy for the space industry. For example if we have a blockchain node on a satellite, the satellite could directly sell and distribute the data via the blockchain network, which would give them a broader range of audiences.
9. What’s the benefits of having blockchain on satellite?
Zee: We will be releasing one of the key use cases next month along with the news about the launch, so stay tuned.
10. How many satellites will be needed for SpaceChain to have operational capabilities?
Zee: I would say just one will be operational. However, the bigger purpose is about introducing decentralized governance in the satellite constellation and also having diversity of the nodes to make it more secure.
Ziheng: For the data access, as long as there’s a blockchain node on the same satellite, the data would be acquired. So the number here is not that important for specific data acquisition. However, we do have a plan for constructing a satellite internet.
11. Previously your focus was on the SpaceChain OS and getting developers to build on your platform, but now it seems your mission is building a distributed satellite network. Can you tell us more about this?
Zee: We were working on the SpaceChain OS and have integrated Qtum and ETH to support dApps’ development and run dAapps on the satellite platform. However, most of the dApps are still not functional by themselves. So we have decided to make an application based on our OS, which is the one we are launching next month. At the same time, the OS plays an important role in the distributed satellite network because for such network to work, it needs a common protocol, an OS and a detailed hardware standard. And yes, as the blockchain industry evolves rapidly, we are constantly making adjustments on how to allocate our resources.
Ziheng: We want to build the distributed satellite network such that every participating company/satellite can all communicate and share with each other without generating issues such as trust. It would gather contributions from different parties and accelerate the space industry development;
For us, one example is that, it will bring the satellite much closer to us. We will be able to use the blockchain network to get access to the data of satellites more easily and of course, use their service.
12. Does SpaceChain own or build any satellites?
Zee: Currently, we are focusing on launching our satellite payloads with our partners. But, we may launch our own satellites. We are working out if the economics check out. At this stage, launching with our partners is the most cost effective way for us to reach our goals.
13. Can you give examples of the applications of satellites in use today? Is it just GPS?
Ziheng: There is much more to it than that. One example is Google earth (not google maps navigation). The images provided by satellite could help us form a digital earth with all the landscape/city details. There are also some satellites that are for communication for TV and mobile phones etc.
14. What is the overall research and development plan for SpaceChain?
Ziheng: Our development is under a big scope for the construction of the decentralized satellite internet. Under this scope, we develop blockchain technology for the environment of finance, general DLT technologies for data distribution, and decentralized applications.
15. Would be cool to get information about SpaceChain’s relationships like Qtum &/or Blockstream, a project where Jeff Garzik is involved.
Zee: We are quite connected in space and blockchain industry. Our main partners and affiliations are listed on spacechain.com
16. Any upcoming partnership with big companies or exchanges with the new node?
Zee: Please stay tuned on our official channels. I am unable to share anything about a future announcement. However, there are some existing partnerships that are interesting and will be shared by Ziheng.
Ziheng: In Europe we are collaborating with Deimos for the Kickstart project under the European Space Agency. They have been in contact with us, especially in the field of EO (Earth Observation).
17. Can you talk about the collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA)? What does this means, are they partnering with SpaceChain?
Ziheng: We have set up a collaboration with ESA for a programme called ‘Kickstart’, which aims to bring blockchain technology to the space industry. You can read more about it here.
Zee: ESA has been very thorough in analysing our tech. We are working with them to bring blockchain to the European Space Ecosystem.
18. The grant from ESA kickstart is only €60,000. Is that enough for the team to carry on with the project?
Zee: The grant was for us to start working on the proposal. If we successfully pass the first round of the program, there is a chance for us to access a larger amount of funding. We hope this grant also helps us gain more recognition in the industry so we that we can work with more top partners like ESA.
Ziheng: The target of the Kickstart is to bring our product ‘Multisignature Wallet’ to the UK and the rest of Europe. Since the main technology is developed, the budget was allocated for the rest of the integration and the final product development, which matches our plan.
19. Why we will choose SpaceChain instead of your competitors?
Zee: In terms of competitors, I do not see any particular competitors who are doing such blockchain integration. There are some companies working on space and blockchain, but the approaches are very different. However, I have seen increasing interest from space companies about integrating blockchain in their networks. We want to lead this initiative and have more companies involved.
20. Consys Space’s TruSat and SpaceBit are also democratizing space and making space more globally accessible. What are your thoughts about them? Do you view them as competitors or partners?
Zee: I am very excited about their initiative! Like I said, although they are working on space and blockchain technologies, we are doing it in very different approaches. We have hardware in space that enables onboard computing; That makes a huge difference.
For TruSat, we have very good relationship with Planetary resources which is the former entity of Consensys Space. The co-founder of Planetary Resources Eric Anderson is our advisor. Also, CFO Joe Landon is a very good friend of ours. @jgarzikGNU talks to Joe Lubin quite often. We are excited about their projects.
* Note: This compilation of AMA questions & answers have been carefully revised to improve the grammar and readability.