We, as humanity, have been interested in exploration. For the first few thousand years of our history, we’ve been exploring our Mother Earth. But still, we’ve always been drawn to stars. So in the last 100-150 years we gradually started space exploration. At first, we only watched the stars with our eyes. After we invented telescopes, we got a chance to take a closer look into other worlds.
But in the last 50-70 years we finally began to fully explore the space. Astronauts have visited the moon, and robotic space shuttles are already outside the solar system. Dozens of rovers are exploring other space objects. So human expansion on the solar system is a matter of time. But how different planets would exchange money? Sending rockets with billions of paper-ish dollars sounds ridiculous. So, the most suitable option for interplanetary money exchange will be various digital solutions. And most effective from them will be blockchain-based solutions. But how can they change the space exploration projects? Today you’ll find it out with me!
The Expansion of Technology into Space
We are getting closer to the tech singularity. In the last 20-30 years science and tech inventions have literally skyrocketed. Computers that were sent to people in space 50 years ago had less than 32 Kb of RAM. Today, even the weakest smartphones have at least 1 GB RAM, which is 300 000 times bigger than in first space shuttles!
We, as a society, use powerful tech to explore space both from Earth (with telescopes) and from the space itself (with shuttles, rovers, and other tech). Just in the last 10 years, those technologies have helped us to capture a black hole, thousands of potentially livable planets, and millions of stars throughout the universe.
Human expansion has become more realistic than ever before. Many government and private organizations are already taking small yet effective steps into setting up the first human settlements on the Moon and Mars. So, we need to think about how people from Earth can exchange goods and money with people on other planets. And that’s the place where blockchain and space tech will become untied with each other.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies: Meeting Space Challenges
Space exploration is a situation with its unique challenges including communication, transactions, and the need for true decentralization. And blockchain can troubleshoot them all.
We can’t use traditional communications in space. Mars is the closest planet to us with a distance of 12 light minutes. It means that even a ray of light needs 12 minutes to travel from Earth to Mars. Classic radio waves that are used for interplanetary communications today need at least 15-20 minutes to travel in one way. Just imagine a Zoom chat with that insane delay.
And now imagine the consequences of some unpredictable event with the repeater in a centralized communication system. If some of them get broken, people will lose the way to communicate even with text and pre-recorded voice and video messages.
But blockchain can fix it. Blockchain projects don’t have a centralized structure, so even when one of the devices gets broken, others still work and can transfer data. So it’s the first area where blockchain and space technologies will tie together. By using blockchain-based communication systems, information can be transmitted and verified transparently and efficiently, ensuring the integrity of the data that is being exchanged between spacecraft, satellites, and ground stations.
Next, let's talk about transactions. Space exploration requires a lot of money. And as for today, all transactions happen just on Earth. But in the next 30-50 years we begin to see the first interplanetary exchanges for the purchase of equipment, resources, or services. And cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, can facilitate these transactions transparently. With cryptocurrencies, payments are done quickly and securely without any intermediaries. And it saves time, which will be useful in a space where traditional financial systems may not be easily accessible or efficient. Lastly, decentralization is another crucial aspect in space exploration. We, as a society, are looking for new space opportunities to build new decentralized settlements that govern themselves without being tied to already existing countries and arthritis. In a decentralized system, control is distributed among multiple participants rather than being concentrated in a single entity. It reduces the risk of a single point of failure and enhances resilience in space missions. Blockchain technology provides a decentralized framework where multiple nodes equally participate in maintaining the system’s integrity.
By leveraging blockchain's decentralized nature, space missions can achieve a more robust and secure infrastructure, ensuring that critical operations continue even if some nodes or components experience issues.
Cryptocurrencies in Space: Potential Applications
Blockchain will become a crucial technology in interstellar communications. But what about its most common Earth usage: cryptocurrencies? Let’s explore their opportunities in space together.
First of all, we will see it as a decent payment option in space tourism. There are already dozens of private companies for short space travel around the Earth. The most well-known companies are Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Space Perspective, and Boeing. Space Perspective and SpaceX are already accepting Bitcoin and Ethereum as payment options.
The next evolution step of the blockchain and space industry is interplanetary commerce. Crypto is a great international payment option accepted in various parts of the world. So, it has the potential to become an interplanetary and even interstellar payment option. That way we can conduct interplanetary transactions efficiently and transparently. It eliminates the need for complex and time-consuming traditional financial systems, allowing seamless trade between countries and planets.
Cryptocurrencies can play a significant role in supporting satellite networks by enabling decentralized and secure communication systems. Blockchain-based solutions can ensure reliable and tamper-proof data transmission satellites, ground stations, and other space-based infrastructure. It will enhance the efficiency and security of satellite operations, leading to improved communication and navigation. Moreover, new space colonies can use crypto as the main payment option there. They can create their own digital coins that will be accepted on the whole planet.
Blockchain Technology in Space: Use Cases
If you think that it’s just daydreaming, let me prove you wrong. Blockchain already has many use cases that could benefit the space industry. It can be used for secure communication for space missions. It securely stores all information on various nodes. If even the main spaceship computer becomes unusable, astronauts can use other devices to connect to its network. Open space is a dangerous environment where everything could happen. So it would be better to have multiple backup communication options. And blockchain demonstrates itself as the greatest available option.
Blockchain technology also can be used to create an immutable record of spacecraft health data. Each data point, such as temperature, pressure, or system status will be on the chain. It’s impossible to delete or modify data, which eliminates cheating possibilities. Mission control engineers can monitor the health of the spacecraft and astronauts in real-time and detect any anomalies or malfunctions. By having a transparent and unalterable record, the integrity of the health data is maintained, enabling timely and accurate decision-making. Blockchain can play a crucial role in tracking and verifying the supply chain of resources and equipment used in space missions. People tend to forget to list things, so it becomes hard to predict real astronauts' needs in the long run. Blockchain can automate this process at every step of the supply chain. It prevents counterfeit or faulty components from entering the mission. It reduces the risk of mission failure and ensures the safety and reliability of space systems.
Blockchain can contribute to the tracking and mitigation of space debris. By creating a shared decentralized registry of space objects, including active satellites and debris, blockchain can help monitor the location, ownership, and characteristics of each object in space, including man-made ones. It will help companies avoid collisions and crashes. And it’s just a small part of blockchain usage in space. This technology has almost limitless possibilities, which we see today and definitely will see tomorrow.
Challenges and Solutions: Implementing Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies in Space
There is nothing perfect in this world. So, blockchain in space will face many difficulties until it becomes a decent interstellar technology. First of all, we need to overcome technical challenges such as limited resources, big latency, and poor bandwidth. Even the Moon is not as friendly as Earth. So space engineers should consider limited power and storage resources. No one will be releasing a new shuttle just to deliver a new SSD to the colony.
Communication delays and limited bandwidth in space can impact the speed and efficiency of blockchain transactions. So, we need to build a completely new cryptocurrency on a highly-efficient consensus mechanism that won’t take up a lot of space. Jurisdictional complexity is another big challenge. New settlements will count as new independent towns and countries, unrelated to the existing ones. So, we need to create all laws for them from scratch. And it includes blockchain and crypto-related guidelines too. Most of all that will be a mix of existing regulations, but still we need to write new laws for new lands. New interstellar crypto developers will face data privacy and security concerns. Blockchain's transparency conflicts with certain data privacy requirements that are required for space travel and creating settlements. So, developers will need to build even more secure systems than we have today.
And last, but not least in this chapter is the value stability. Cryptocurrencies are known for their price volatility. But space missions require a stable payment option that needs to run on traditional financial laws, including yearly 1-2% inflation. Stablecoins could solve this issue. But future developers should decide to which asset they peg new currency for their settlement. So we need to start to think about interplanetary financial money circulation today when it’s still in the concept phase. We, as humanity, should collaborate and use the best available tech and regulatory practices. Interdisciplinary research and prototyping are other ways that help us to build tailored blockchain and space solutions.
Looking Forward: The Future of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies in Space
The one thing that we need to realize is the inevitability of progress. We will start to see more tech-savvy solutions in the space industry, including blockchain and crypto adoption. A need for secure ledgers will become an additional push for creating decentralized satellite networks. We will also see the tokenization of space assets, so it will become even easier to buy something with crypto. The easiest example is the tokenization of space tourism. Once a new “astronaut” bought a ticket with crypto, they will get a token confirming that purchase which acts like a shuttle ticket. All those innovations will open economic opportunities and ease space exploration, making the interplanetary exchange process as easy as it possibly could be. But we should be prepared to face all challenges that I’ve listed above.
As you see, blockchain and space are complex topics that could be discussed forever. And we still lack time. But I can clearly say that progress is inevitable and we will see space exploration even in our lifetime. And blockchain and cryptocurrency will become a significant part of it. Firstly, we will see a blockchain as the secure decentralized storage option. But with time it will evolve more to the finance and governance side. Future settlements could use blockchain in elections, as elements of the smart city, or in finance systems.
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