Your 6-minute guide to SpaceChain
Learn more about SpaceChain, its goals, challenges, and how they are fostering an open and neutral blockchain infrastructure for the new space economy.
*This article was last updated on June 7, 2021
The who’s who in the project
The company is co-founded by Zee Zheng and Jeff Garzik, the key Bitcoin core developer who worked under Satoshi Nakamoto for two years.
The advisory board comprises renowned blockchain, space, finance and business experts ━ Don Tapscott. Eric Anderson, Jeffrey Manber, Matthew Roszak, and Tim Draper ━ who regularly provide strategic guidance to the key management team.
They’re one of the pioneers in the field
Founded in late 2017, SpaceChain is one of the first companies in the world that is combining space and blockchain technologies to make space more accessible to mankind. How? By building an open and neutral infrastructure that enables users to develop and run decentralised applications in space. In doing so, SpaceChain’s vision is to remove barriers and allow a global community to access and collaborate in space.
“We want to democratise access to space — space should not be expensive — space is for everyone” said Jeff Garzik, SpaceChain co-founder and CTO.
They built their own operating system
Programming a basic operating system (OS) may seem easy for some, but what about one that boasts space capabilities? SpaceChain developed a real-time OS for space and incorporated it with blockchain technology. The open-sourced codes are on GitHub.
Best of all, they proved it worked when they deployed the first space-based Qtum node, flight-tested the OS, and made an application (a multisignature cold wallet service) out of it. Check out the transaction verification information here.
They made three launches in the first two years
Within the first few months of business, SpaceChain successfully launched a Qtum-based blockchain node into space in February 2018. They continued improving their hardware board, and in October 2018, they launched the second-generation Qtum-based blockchain node into space.
In December 2019, their payload was installed on the International Space Station (ISS) to demonstrate the receipt, authorization, and retransmission of Bitcoin blockchain transactions, creating “multisignature” transactions. The demonstration payload also shows that the ISS is able to host the GomSpace hardware as well as a blockchain software wallet for secure storage and transfer of digital currencies and space data.
And on June 3, 2021, SpaceChain launched its fourth payload to demonstrate Ethereum technology integration of its hardware on the ISS. It will also have another launch on June 24, 2021, to showcase new commercial use cases for the blockchain industry in space.
They have garnered awards, recognition and more
French author and Noble Prize winner of Literature André Gide once said: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
After two years of taking the path less travelled, SpaceChain had finally gained recognition from the space industry for its efforts in integrating blockchain technologies with space. In September 2019, the European Space Agency (ESA) awarded SpaceChain a grant to commercially develop its satellite-powered mutlisignature wallet.
Thanks to ESA and Nanoracks, they got approval to install their third node on the International Space Station.
Many national space agencies and companies in the industry have also begun to accept and support SpaceChain’s mission, validating its standing as a global space company. What’s more, SpaceChain has been invited to speak at many key industry conferences such as Milken Institute Asia Summit, SpaceTide, ESA Observation Week and Space Forum.
They believe in a multi-blockchain future
SpaceChain believes in the future of blockchain as a transformative technology. They are glad to see that many projects have created their own mainnet/product launches in the last two years, enabling more applications and use cases. However, SpaceChain has no plans to build its own mainnet. Instead, the team aims to integrate with other smart contract platforms such as Qtum and Ethereum to enable easy access to everyone.
To date, the company has integrated Qtum, Ethereum and Bitcoin technologies into its hardware, and they have future plans as well as the capacity to integrate more blockchains into their system. As the industry evolves, SpaceChain will also evaluate multiple technologies to pick the best ones for the ecosystem.
SpaceChain’s operational model leverages Singapore, the U.S., and Europe’s burgeoning commercial space industry, innovations in the blockchain ecosystem, and new economies of scale in the hardware sector. Thus placing them at the leading edge of new space technical development.
They are disrupting the space industry with decentralised technology
Many space companies are trying to build its own constellations; however, SpaceChain believes this is not the most efficient way. SpaceChain is envisioning an open-source standard for hardware, software, and communication protocols for low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
In 2021, SpaceChain is building an alliance consortium towards the creation of a Decentralised Satellite Infrastructure (DSI) — a mesh-network of spacecraft owned and operated in LEO by multiple parties in multiple jurisdictions. Each spacecraft may join or depart the constellation at any time via a blockchain registry. Blockchain technology and the open-source software based on it enables a decentralised communication and application environment for the constellation.
The DSI infrastructure empowers people to use/run any service through the distributed space-based network, and accelerates the development of commercial use cases for space resource providers, satellite applications and fintech companies.
There are lots that they are working on
In addition to working on the DSI as a constellation-as-a-service, SpaceChain is collaborating with DEIMOS — under the project ECOMI (E-COMmerce platform for MIcro-geoservices) — to democratise access to earth observation (EO) services. They are developing an e-commerce platform, store4EO, with blockchain-enabled credit management and payment services.
Together with Core Semiconductor, SpaceChain is also producing an open hardware platform that’s capable of providing a downlink to mobile phones and small devices directly from satellites in orbit, without the use of a satellite dish on Earth or a third-party network. With security inherently built-in, the technology is designed with the blockchain industry in mind and to bring blockchain applications to a global user base. Read Jeff’s interview with Superbcrew here.
The ISS payload launch in December 2019 has demonstrated that SpaceChain’s blockchain hardware wallet technology is successful. Companies who require that added security for their digital assets can integrate SpaceChain’s multisignature authentication service to their platforms.
The team is working on future launches, business development, research projects and space-as-a-service blockchain products. All will only be announced when 100% confirmed.
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