Blockchains and cryptocurrencies are everywhere now. And yes, that includes outer space. Believe it or not, this possible application isn’t even new. So far, several crypto transactions have done their way to space, and numerous people and institutions worldwide are studying the utilities of crypto in space already.
The first crypto A cryptocurrency transaction is an entry on the blockchain ledger, noting sender, receiver and number of coins transacted. More to the space was done by the company Blockstream in August 2017. They sent 0.0025 BTCs through their satellite to Grubles (BitcoinVPS creator), who received it on a computer with networking disabled. We can say that was the beginning of crypto in space, but the idea was before the fact.
In early 2016, Kartik Hegadekatti, a researcher and Indian Ministry, published a paper about the possible uses for cryptocurrencies beyond Earth. And, especially, about why it’s a bad idea to try to “export” our traditional money to other planets.
Possible crypto uses in outer space
For Hegadekatti, the sole idea of transporting physical or “plastic” money (e.g., debit cards) into space (in a hypothetical scenario of star colonization) isn’t practical at all. The money would end up rising in value: so, a physical $100 would be worth at least $150 for the transport to Mars.
“When the first human colony starts to function on Mars, what might be the best possible medium of exchange that can be used? It can be A digital currency running on a blockchain and built with cryptography. Contrary to central-bank issued currency, cryptocurrency issuance rules are... More systems. Using paper money or plastic money on Mars or anywhere outside Earth is ruled out. That is because carrying physical money into space is a costly process.”
That’s, of course, the first use that comes to mind: cryptocurrencies as an extraterrestrial medium of exchange. But it doesn’t end there. The international accounting firm PwC describes at least other five uses for blockchain systems in the space industry. The first one is space financing. This way, by using tools like Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) or Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs), space startups and missions would be able to raise funds.
The second use is space asset tokenization. In this case, the spatial property and assets (from satellites to spacecraft) would be linked to a token. It could be a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) to verify, distribute, and trade their ownership. The third use is space industry procurement, which would allow for tracking data and payments transparently.
The fourth use is manufacturing supply chain management. It’s very related to the third use of traceability but focused on the supply chain of spatial assets. Finally, the fifth use is secure satellite communication. This one involves using satellites as Blockchain is a type of database storing an immutable set of data, verifiable to anyone with access to it —through... nodes and in-space data storage to develop “space-based blockchain applications”. That’s something already started by Blockstream, which has four Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency. It was created in 2009, by an anonymous founder or group of founders... satellites across six coverage zones.
Governments aiming to the space with crypto
If you’re thinking about the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), you’re right. They’re already experimenting with the potential uses of blockchain for the space industry. Especially, they seem very interested in the communication part by using satellites connected to a blockchain. The goal is to store new data about space and the independent communication between satellites.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is also exploring blockchain for the space industry — at least since 2017. And they’re also interested in the satellites because they provided funding for the crypto company SpaceChain in 2019. This firm is developing a blockchain satellite network, “allowing users to develop and run decentralized applications in space.”
On the other hand, Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, found another use for blockchain in space. They’re using the intellectual property solution “IP Guard”, developed by Waves. With this platform, the agency aims to protect its data, coordinate legal experts, and even offer non-monetary rewards for detecting IP infringements.
Asgardia, the space nation
Maybe this is the only government in full that is aiming to space with crypto, since it’s, actually, a space nation with its own cryptocurrency. Asgardia is a non-fully recognized micronation, based on a satellite outside Earth. They want to build space colonies in the future, and already have their own constitution, Parliament, and alternative system to taxes.
Their own cryptocurrency is the stablecoin SOLAR, based on the blockchain Qtum. Besides, according to their official website:
“The basis of the Asgardian economy concept is the ‘Government as a digital protocol’. Under this concept, the national state structure is not based on the human factor, but rather on a decentralized network that is stable, tamper-proof, and scalable.”
Cryptos aiming to the space
As we already mentioned, the crypto firms Blockstream and SpaceChain are developing their own network of blockchain satellites. And Bitcoin (An abbreviation for Bitcoin.) was the first cryptocurrency in space but isn’t the only one now. For starting, SpaceChain has its own token (SPC) available in two blockchains: Ethereum and Qtum. SPC is the main medium of exchange inside the SpaceChain network.
Thanks to the same brand, there are already Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Qtum satellite nodes in the International Space Station (ISS). Beyond them, and thanks to Copernic Space, we’ll also have some NFTs on the moon —literally. They’re offering the opportunity to send physical cargo to the Earth’s natural satellite while owning a part of the Lunar Outpost’s MAPP Rover as an NFT. Besides, a marketplace of tokenized space assets is in development.
But not only the space companies inside crypto are working with it. SpaceX and Geometric Energy Corporation (GEC) are planning to launch the DOGE-1 mission to the moon. This is “the first-ever commercial lunar payload in history paid entirely with DOGE”. According to Elon Musk (SpaceX CEO and known supporter of Dogecoin), “SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon” —around June 2022.
In the meantime, and honoring Musk, indeed; a YouTuber sent a real DOGE to space. He did it briefly, with the help of a balloon system. The payload barely abandoned the atmosphere, but a crypto in space is a crypto in space.
A not-so-distant future beyond Earth is waiting for us. According to some experts, Mars colonization (one of our first space projects) could start in 2050. It’s just then when we’ll be able to see some real use cases beyond companies. However, from now, we can bet that cryptos and blockchains will be there.
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