SpaceX rocket launches blockchain tech to International Space Station

SpaceChain is building a satellite network for digital transactions

SpaceChain launched hardware Thursday that will support blockchain wallet applications as it builds its low-Earth-orbit satellite network for digital transactions.

The hardware is the first blockchain demonstration project aboard the International Space Station and it will be used to show how documents that require multiple signatures or approvals can be secured through a space-based network. And it will be hosted on a commercial platform called Nanoracks on the station.

SpaceChain, which was founded in 2017, is working to build a network that will support blockchain transactions including monetary and supply chain trades, off the terrestrial-based internet as a means of adding security.

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"Blockchain is the next major disruptor in space," Jeff Garzik, SpaceChain co-founder and chief technology officer, said in a prepared statement. "SpaceChain addresses security vulnerabilities for financial systems and digital assets in the growing digital economy. Through integrating technologies, new paradigms that were once beyond reach can now be created and add exciting elements in the New Space Economy."

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Blockchain is a type of software that verifies and records digital transactions by linking blocks of information together on multiple computers, which decentralizes the approvals. It is most commonly referred along with cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, which rely on the network to record the trades and does not rely on third parties, like central banks.

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Current blockchain transactions carry significant security risks if a user’s private signature key is compromised, according to SpaceChain. The company is attempting to solve that problem, with its 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 two ground-based signatures can still complete the transaction, according to SpaceChain.


“Multisignature transactions have been proven to be highly robust security measures for financial,” Garzik has said.

The launch Thursday is the company’s third. It relied on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a commercial resupply mission to the space station to deliver the satellite.