Bitcoin, the electronic peer-to-peer currency that sidesteps more traditional methods of payment, is about to be launched into space.
In a joint venture between Dunvegan Space Systems and Deep Space Industries Inc., the aim is to add an extra verification layer to bitcoin by creating a system of orbital hubs called BitSats. These small satellites, which can either be free-flying or attached to other space assets, will become an intrinsic part of bitcoin transactions on Earth and will hopefully bolster confidence in the security of bitcoin payments.
“Deep Space (Inc.) has always said we are about using space resources — this includes space itself,” said Rick Tumlinson, Chairman of Deep Space Inc., in a press release.
Bitcoin is a rapidly-growing secure form of currency, but it’s having a hard time gaining wide-spread trust. Recently, the IRS said that bitcoin will be regulated as a commodity rather than a currency. Also, the wild fluctuations in bitcoin valuations have made investors concerned about the system’s long-term prospects.
But through the non-profit BitSat effort, by setting up an infrastructure in space, perhaps many of these issues can be calmed.
Bitcoin is created or “mined” by distributed independent computers. Each computer, owned by anyone with an internet connection, solves a complex algorithm to create a block of data. That block is then added to a “block chain,” a record of every bitcoin transaction ever made. Each step of the process is verified and made official, thus creating the bitcoin currency. By its numerical nature, bitcoin is virtually impossible to hack, but the BitSat project is envisaged as an off-planet exchange that would prevent spoofing of the blockchain.
Like any other communication satellite, the BitSats would also be used as nodes to transmit bitcoin around the world.
“Private spaceflight is breaking big, driving down costs so that great ideas like BitSats are within reach of even volunteer nonprofits,” said Jeff Garzik, CEO of Dunvegan Space Systems and bitcoin core developer. “We want to keep bitcoin healthy and free by finding alternative ways to distribute block chain data.”
“The goal is to design a downlink system from the satellites to the public that is as open and inexpensive as possible,” said Daniel Faber, chief operating officer for Deep Space. “While most people will buy their downlink setups from a vendor, ideally a smart hobbyist should be able to download a design and build their own receiver from much less than $10,000.”
Deep Space Inc.’s long-term goal is to mine asteroids for resources, but the company obviously has many more ideas for the monetization of space in the interim.