Singapore-based blockchain start-up Spacechain has launched a satellite into space in partnership with another blockchain company Qtum. A Canada-based blockchain company, Blockstream, has also launched a satellite. With these developments, blockchain technology has started making its foray into space.
Internet is dominated by a few giant multinational corporations, for e.g. Google and Facebook. Cloud computing is dominated by the giants Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.
On the other hand we see Sia network, a blockchain start-up, which tries to disrupt the hold of Amazon or Microsoft in the cloud computing, by allowing anyone with excess computer storage to put their hardware up for rent on Sia network. Transactions will be governed by smart contracts, and the host will be paid by Siacoin (SC) crypto token.
In yet another example, we can see that Lisk has a DApp (decentralized application) platform where the blockchain developers can easily develop, test and deploy their DApps on this platform. In case of Lisk, all transactions will again be governed by smart contracts, and payment is with Lisk (LSK) crypto token. In essence, Lisk offers a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for blockchain DApp development. Just two examples show how blockchain start-ups threaten to disrupt the business model of technology giants, using the decentralization offered by blockchain.
However, how easy is it to compete with Google and Facebook? To put things into perspective, Google and Facebook have even been laying down their own fibre optic cables. Earlier, launching satellites were the preserves of government entities, in view of the massive investment required for developing, launching and maintaining the big geostationary satellites that orbit at altitudes of more than 35,000 kilometers above our planet. However, with the emergence of smaller satellites, for e.g. CubeSats, they now cost less. While it’s not a simple project yet, giant technology companies have been able to enter the space frontier now.
That’s the kind of hold Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon have over the Internet and cloud computing. The smaller blockchain start-ups trying to disrupt them actually need to use their infrastructure, and that’s a key dependency.
Spacechain‘s entry into the field of satellites is a farsighted move, to provide blockchain start-ups their own infrastructure, so that the dependency on entrenched technology giants can be minimized or eliminated. Spacechain has partnered with ComSat, a Chinese satellite service provider, to manufacture their CubeSat. Their plan is to create an open-source satellite operation system where developers can build and run their applications, not necessarily based on blockchain. Qtum has joined this partnership, and in February this year, Spacechain has launched its satellite. As for Qtum, who uses proof of stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, which makes their blockchain more efficient already, their wallet holders will be able to mine Qtum crypto tokens on their smartphone, thanks to their partnership with Spacechain in this satellite project.
Blockstream is addressing a different problem with their entry into space. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can benefit people in areas with economic instability, if these areas don’t have reliable Internet infrastructure, then the potential users can’t access Bitcoin. Running a full node is the most secure way to use Bitcoin, however, it’s very hard in areas where the Internet connection is inadequate. With Blockstream‘s satellite, a user in such areas can use their TV satellite dish, a USB drive, a personal computer and free, open-source software, to download a full Bitcoin node. The cost to this user will be less than US $ 100.
To summarize then, the entry of Spacechain and Blockstream into the world of satellites can potentially create a backup infrastructure for blockchain start-ups, allow developers to build and run their apps on satellites, and make cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin accessible to people in areas with inadequate Internet infrastructure.
Pic : Spacenews