Open source goes outer space

European Space Agency (ESA) to fund first blockchain based open source satellite network


Founded in 2017, SpaceChain is a community-based space platform that combines space and blockchain technologies to build the world's first open-source blockchain-based satellite network. In April 2019, SpaceChain announced its expansion and operations in the United Kingdom to explore opportunities in Europe's commercial space ecosystem. Most recently, SpaceChain UK has been awarded funding from ESA to further develop and identify commercial use-cases for its satellite blockchain technology, under the Kick-start Activity program.


SpaceChain is envisioning an open source standard for hardware, software, and communication protocols for low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. It already launched and flight-tested two blockchain nodes into space since February 2018. Moreover, SpaceChain has developed a real-time open-source operating system that supports the functionality of blockchain nodes on satellites. SpaceChain’s is democratising access to space by enabling compatibility between the company’s hardware and developer applications.

One use case of the satellite blockchain technology is to make the transmission of digital currencies and smart contracts secure by using SpaceChain’s multi-signature satellite wallet. The tech uses a three-signature system, with two ground-based signatures and a third in orbit, on the satellite. Each transaction requires at least two of the three signatures to complete. Uplinking data and protocols directly to the satellite is more secure than terrestrial network processing on the open internet.

Zee Zheng, SpaceChain’s co-founder and CEO, said “Having an open-source operating system in the space industry helps lower the cost of entry and encourages more developers to become part of the ecosystem. We are using our SpaceChain operating system to attract more talent, develop more use-cases, and bring more business opportunities to the space industry.”

The SpaceChain open-source operating system enables users to develop and run decentralised applications in space, and is available to anyone, anywhere in the world, all while remaining secure and immutable through proven blockchain cryptography. In doing so, SpaceChain is removing barriers and allowing a global community to access and collaborate in space.

The Kick-start Activity Program, under which SpaceChain UK received the grant, 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.

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