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September 18, 2019

Blockchain satellite startup SpaceChain receives European Space Agency backing

By Luke Christou

Blockchain satellite technology startup SpaceChain has received a €60,000 grant from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop commercial use-cases for its next-generation blockchain-based network.

SpaceChain’s technology is designed to improve the security of digital currency transactions and smart contracts. While these transactions usually require one private key, SpaceChain transactions require as many as three to complete, one of which is provided via satellite communication.

“The fintech industry currently suffers from low levels of security in relation to the storage and transmission of digital currency, preventing it from achieving the same level of professionalism and trust as the traditional banking industry,” Zee Zheng, CEO of SpaceChain, said.

“Multisignature transactions have been proven to be highly robust security measures for financial systems and we are very excited to be partnering with ESA and expanding these security measures to the new space economy,” Jeff Garzik, SpaceChain’s CTO, explained.

SpaceChain claims that by building an open-source network in space, it will be able to improve safety and accessibility, allowing users to develop and run truly decentralised applications in space.

“Combining space and blockchain technologies, SpaceChain lowers the barrier to entry and costs so more people can participate in space projects,” a company whitepaper states. “It also offers a truly decentralized blockchain network that supports various space projects and encourages collaboration.”

The startup has already completed two successful launches of blockchain-enabled satellite payloads.

The funding was provided through the ESA’s Kick-start Activity Program, which is designed to enable promising space-related startups to explore promising ideas and develop new commercial services and applications. If successful, SpaceChain could be granted further funding through the ESA’s Business Applications and Space Solutions initiative.

Having gained the ESA’s support, SpaceChain now plans to collaborate with aerospace company Deimos Space UK, which specialises in flight systems, ground segment systems, space situational awareness, and satellite navigation.

Fellow blockchain startup Blockstream is also pushing on with its plans to put blockchain in space, in order to improve security and increase access. The company has so far launched five satellites which are used to broadcast the Bitcoin network around the globe.

Read more: SpaceX to launch “groundbreaking” medium earth orbit satellite constellation