SpaceChain sends blockchain hardware to International Space Station

The December 5, 2019 resupply mission to the international Space Station (ISS) is carrying SpaceChain’s blockchain hardware wallet. This will be SpaceChain’s third on-orbit demonstration of blockchain technology and the first about the space station.

“The third payload launch is a significant milestone not just for SpaceChain but also toward the development of the New Space Economy,” said Zee Zheng, SpaceChain co-founder and CEO. “The integration of space and blockchain technologies has uncovered new possibilities and opportunities and we are very excited about the prospect of working closely with financial service providers, fintech and Bitcoin developers, IoT service providers, research institutions and space agencies in the coming months to further accelerate advancements within the ecosystem.”

SpaceChain’s hardware was a part of around 5,700 pounds of supplies and experiments loaded aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule undertaking its third trip to ISS. The CRS-19 mission successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:29 p.m. ET on December 5 and is expected to birth with the station on December 8.

The blockchain hardware wallet will be installed as a hosted payload in Nanoracks’ commercial platform onboard the station. The ISS demonstration mission was made possible with support from Nanoracks and its Space Act agreement with NASA; it should be noted Nanoracks CEO Jeffery Manber is a “Core Space Advisor” to SpaceChain.

Once activated, the payload will demonstrate receipt, authorization, and retransmission of blockchain transactions, creating “multisig” transactions which require multiple signatures to complete, increasing the security of options. All data will be uplinked and downlinked directly through the Nanoracks’ commercial platform. Payload testing is expected to be completed by early 2020.

Over the long term, SpaceChain wants to turn satellites into blockchain nodes able to communicate with other satellites and able to take “contracts” for use of resources onboard a satellite. The company is developing its own “space node” hardware as well.

SpaceChain’s most recent feat putting blockchain into orbit is significant since it has shown forward progress at a time where other space blockchain efforts have faltered. Helios Wire announced plans to incorporate blockchain into its satellite IoT plans, but ended up going into bankruptcy and being bought for its S-band spectrum by EchoStar. Nexus planned to use Vector’s GalacticSky software-defined satellites to host its cryptocurrency in orbit, but Vector went into bankruptcy earlier this year.


Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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