Historically, there was a necessity for a third party that demanded a payment to perform transactions or submit information to ensure the accuracy of transactions and create a reliable history. Blockchain eradicates the need for an intermediary through creating a trustless medium of exchange and immutable public ledger. It creates a secure and resilient shared history which is accessible anywhere in the world.
Blockchain is essentially a global public ledger capable of automatically recording and verifying a high volume of digital transactions, regardless of location. For the first time, information such as digital signatures, digital contracts, digital keys to physical locks, digital ownership of physical assets like real estate and digital currency could be validated in a matter of minutes between untrusted parties in a peer to peer transaction without the necessity of a third party intermediary ensuring the validity of ownership and authorization. Once a transaction is completed on a blockchain, it is final, since blockchain operates through a decentralized platform requiring no central supervision, making it resistant to fraud.
Bitcoin is the first real-world application of blockchain. Blockchain goes beyond cryptocurrency, allowing us to program transactions and signals that allow for a decentralized, self-governing network without the need for an intermediary through enforcing executable contracts between machines entitled “smart contracts.” Blockchain can power smart contracts, transacting complex legal, commercial, and cultural interactions in a trustless, peer to peer manner, deeming third party intermediaries obsolete, and enabling execution among machines such as computers, sensors, and nodes, or systems such as grids.
Space technologies have historically been inaccessible and highly guarded. The problem is that it is difficult for new
businesses to utilize existing infrastructures and access knowledge outside of the organization, and for nations to audit projects. Businesses have also avoided space technologies due to the high capital requirement. Unlike other software, it is not possible to build space-based applications with inadequate sums of capital. Lack of human capital, specialized professionals and limited talent are also major constraints. Current space projects are dominated by governments, and thus, hindered by external factors that make them inefficient. Research and innovation are often times under-resourced.
SpaceChain pioneers a new layer of infrastructure for the Internet of blockchains by taking advantage of space resources. SpaceChain has integrated blockchain nodes on satellites to add a new dimension to the core framework of distributed ledgers. SpaceChain’s node satellites situates blockchain in space and makes use of existing space technology to build a worldwide distributed application layer.
SpaceChain’s decentralized application platform built on satellite technology has opened up this industry to the public. Most satellites are owned and operated by a single entity, thus reducing them to a single-tenancy. With SpaceChain combining existing space technology and blockchain, for the first time, they created multi-tenancy as a new user model and a new economic model for satellite
SpaceChain is advancing the evolution of the decentralized Internet to the next level by essentially inventing
truly decentralized multi-tenant software capabilities within a satellite constellation system network. SpaceChain’s platform features data collection, computing, applications and storage. SpaceChain uses satellites as its operational nodes for realizing direct on-satellite data processing and secures in-space data storage through cryptographic technologies such as quantum communications. Individuals throughout the world have access to this layer of infrastructure, just as they do with the Internet wherever they are located within their various devices.
Singapore-based SpaceChain has launched a LEO satellites into space to establish the satellite network and a satellite
application platform. Two nanosatellite-based blockchain nodes were launched into orbit aboard Chinese Long March rockets in February and October of 2018. in Jan 2019, SpaceChain said it ran a successful test of space-to-ground blockchain transactions — specifically, the completion of a signature verification procedure that could theoretically be used for contracts.
“The multi-signature cold wallet service – an application developed by SpaceChain engineers to test the space node – shows proof of technology of being a potential cyber security solution for the blockchain industry,” SpaceChain co-founder and chief technology officer Jeff Garzik said in a news release.
In Feb 2019, SpaceChain and the Arch Mission Foundation reported that one of the digital payloads stored aboard the satellite launched in October was Arch’s Orbital Library, containing a complete copy of Wikipedia.
“The Orbital Library on SpaceChain’s satellite is the beginning a ring of backup data orbiting around the Earth, and constitutes the first extraterrestrial archive and first step in establishing more Arch libraries that will preserve human knowledge and culture,” Nova Spivack, co-founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, said in a news release. “Through massive replication around the solar system we will be able to guarantee that the Arch Libraries will never be lost – even millions to billions of years in the future.”
The foundation is also planning to send installments of its Lunar Library Project for archiving on the moon’s surface. The first installment is being placed on SpaceIL’s lunar lander, and the second installment will fly to the moon on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander in 2020.
“We are envisioning applications like ultra-secure encrypted messaging, a space-based distributed data center, etc. And of course we will be able to facilitate blockchain transactions in rural areas, oceans and places that terrestrial network is not available.”
SpaceChain and ConsenSys aren’t the only companies working on blockchain space. A report published today by Asia Times lays out the details on several other blockchain-related space ventures, including 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, potentially late this year.
SpaceChain has built a universal OS that can be used across any satellite to transform satellites into multiuse computers rather than the single use satellites that are prevalent today. SpaceChain OS can be used by different satellites and organizations wherever they are located in the world. SpaceChain promotes SpaceChain OS to traditional space industry satellite systems such as communication and navigation. Additionally, SpaceChain OS deployed sandbox technology ensuring an interference-free environment for the applications.
Developers can create applications using the environment provided by SpaceChain OS. SpaceChain OS significantly reduces the difficulty of developing space applications while putting resources like infrastructure to best use. SpaceChain will provide support for startups in the space industry in terms of technology, resources and human capital. At the same time, these startups can use SpaceChain’s verification system, so they can quickly commercialize and produce products and services that society can benefit from on a global scale.
There remains security issues related to commercial satellites such as data integrity and safety of the
satellite. SpaceChain invented SpaceChain OS, a sandboxed blockchain technology that is built upon SylixOS
(an open-source real-time operating system) and Qtum. Partners, individuals and companies can launch their own LEO satellite into space with SpaceChain OS pre-installed.
SylixOS is an open source RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) project. SylixOS has been applied widely in various fields such as defense and security, aeronautics and astronautics, high speed railway system, smart grid, industrial automation, and motion control etc. Within the SpaceChain project, SylixOS is used in the satellite platform to manage hardware resources, and in the Blockchain payload to provide standard API interface and various system features for applications. This system ensures the safety of data running on the satellite as the programs are operated within the immutable public blockchain layer.
“Yes, by using a node in space we remove the physical attack vector as well as a high degree of security on the supply-chain attack vector (given how much testing and review is required to put a device in space), and our hardware and software does not interact with the internet,” said SpaceChain co-founder and CEO Zee Zheng . Instead, it only interacts with our satellite payloads, removing a significant hacking attack vector, and using a 2/3 multi-signature transaction structure, users retain full control of their funds.”
“Here’s how a multi-signature transaction would work. After selecting the SpaceChain space multi-signature service, the user will get the wallet address public key of a Space Node. The user can generate a 2/3 multi-signature wallet address on the client with his own wallet address, alternate contact wallet address, and the Space Node wallet address.
“The role of the alternate contact wallet address is that if there is a problem connecting with the Space Node, the user can enable the private key of the alternate contact wallet address to retrieve the encrypted currency in the multi-signature wallet address. When the user wants to initiate a transaction, the client first transfers the cryptocurrency to the multi-signature wallet address. After the user signs the confirmation with his private key, the transaction that completes the signature is sent and received from the Space Node, and then broadcast to the Qtum blockchain.”
ESA supports SpaceChain for Blockchain satellite technology
ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions, under its Kick-start Activity program, has awarded funding to SpaceChain UK to further develop and identify commercial use-cases for its satellite blockchain technology.
ESA’s Kick-start Activity Program is designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs and start-ups to explore thematic areas with promising business potential and to create new commercial services and applications relying on space assets and data. Successful Kick-start projects can be further developed with additional funding from ESA’s Business Applications and Space Solutions.
SpaceChain’s satellite blockchain technology is designed to bring more security to the transmission of digital currencies and smart contracts by using a distributed satellite network and multi-signature transactions. Thus far, SpaceChain has developed an open-source operating system, and launched and flight-tested two blockchain nodes into space in the past 12 months.
“It is an honor to receive support from the European Space Agency. The fintech industry currently suffers from low levels of security in relation to the storage and transmission of digital currency, preventing it from achieving the same level of professionalism and trust as the traditional banking industry. We are thrilled to solve that by bringing our blockchain technology to new partners in the EU and UK,” said Zee Zheng, SpaceChain co-founder and chief executive officer.
Current blockchain transactions carry significant security risks if a user’s private signature key is compromised. To solve this problem, SpaceChain has developed a multi-signature satellite wallet that is faster and more secure than the traditional method. Instead of using one private key, the SpaceChain wallet can use a two of three signature scheme, where at least two signatures are required to complete transactions, with the satellite acting as one of those signatures. The funds in the wallet remain safe even in the event of a connectivity failure due to the fact that the two ground-based signatures can still complete the transaction.
“Multisignature transactions have been proven to be highly robust security measures for financial systems and we are very excited to be partnering with ESA and expanding these security measures to the new space economy,” said Jeff Garzik, SpaceChain co-founder and chief technology officer.
SpaceChain plans to collaborate with Deimos Space UK, whose expertise in-flight systems, ground segment systems, space situational awareness, and satellite navigation make them an ideal partner. “We look forward to a long-term partnership with Deimos, beginning with this ESA project. Deimos has identified the innovations being developed by SpaceChain as being enablers of a more robust EO data commercialization platform. The fields of earth observation and remote sensing are ripe for distributed ledger technology innovation,” said Nick Trudgen, SpaceChain chief commercial officer and UK office director.