Goonhilly Earth Station (Goonhilly), the UK satellite communications and space gateway, has announced it is collaborating with space blockchain technology pioneers, Spacebit. Their intention is to develop the use of blockchain technology for space-based data applications and mission deployment. To the duo, blockchain technology has the potential to introduce new techniques to accelerate space exploration by creating an ecosystem which fosters access to space data. The partnership will seek to lower the barrier to entry to access to space communication and application networks.
Ian Jones, CEO of Goonhilly Earth Station said, “Exploring the new commercial opportunities in space requires new ways of thinking. Many of the underlying techniques used in blockchain technology have strong parallels in existing secure communication technology. We look forward to working with Spacebit to discover innovative use cases and business models for blockchain-enabled space communications and showing how these might be applied.”
Space and the Goonhilly and Spacebit collaboration
The Goonhilly/Spacebit collaboration will produce applications utilising:
- tokenised ground station and spacecraft data
- blockchain-based data management
- new communications protocols for security and the Internet of Things (IoT)
- advanced data provenance systems using distributed ledger technology (DLT).
The advantage of blockchain technology is that it will enable Goonhilly to create new business models using a decentralised data management system for communicating between spacecraft and ground stations. The creation, management and easy access to data, while maintaining security and a historical record of each data transfer, will accelerate – in Goonhilly’s estimation, the advancement of commercial space activities.
This occurs because blockchain-based systems allow data to be distributed, or decentralised, while maintaining highly accurate records of movement. This removes the possibility of data tampering. In such an environment, blockchain can:
- automate complex sequencing of data in support of spacecraft launches
- solve GPS issues
- create systems for inter-space and earth-to-space communication.
In effect blockchain establishes founding principles upon which developers can:
- build and base solutions
- access ‘space’ at a lower cost by private and public organisations or individuals.
About Goonhilly and Spacebit
Goonhilly is a global communications services hub and satellite station located in Cornwall, UK. It provides a range of connectivity and operational solutions to the space industry, including:
- GEO, MEO and LEO satellite fleet operators
- diverse enterprises seeking to grow their businesses on earth and in near and deep space.
Customers include SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat and Hispasat, as well as space agencies, governments, broadcasters and others.
Having saved Goonhilly from the wrecking ball in 2014, the partners in Goonhilly have rejuvenated the site. In this context Goonhilly has Enterprise Zone status – the UK’s government’s flagship programme for technology parks. The Spacebit collaboration cements Goonhilly’s position as a provider of additional capacity over and above existing NASA and ESA deep space networks.
Spacebit is a space/blockchain pioneer. Led by a team of consultants, astronauts, entrepreneurs, engineers and rocket scientists, its stated objective is to “democratise access to space” by tokenising commercial space missions around the Earth, the Moon and beyond. Spacebit aspires to change the future of space exploration by:
- driving forward publicly directed space missions
- identifying new economic models around space communication
- enabling private and public enterprises to shape the future of humanity in our universe and the new space economy.
Founder of Spacebit, Pavlo Tanasyuk, said: “Goonhilly shares our passion for exploration, and a disruptive, entrepreneurial approach to business. Today’s partnership is targeted at driving forward new economic models around space communication.
“We firmly believe space exploration should be available to everyone; blockchain lies at the heart of that ambition and will galvanise the new space economy by laying the building blocks for the automation of space communications and democratising access to space data and satellite communications.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Signed at the Farnborough International Air Show 2018, the partnership envisages Goonhilly and Spacebit opening a space communications gateway, to introduce space communication services powered by blockchain and smart contracts. The collaborators believe this can play a key role in developing support for commercial space exploration and deep space communication – for both institutions and private enterprise. In partnership with Goonhilly, Spacebit wishes to establish an ecosystem for ground based elements participating in space missions, including radio communications, ground networks and eventually components of mission control.
For Spacebit the attraction of Goonhilly is the latter’s existing network of over 60 dishes to run its pilot projects. For Goonhilly the attractions of Spacebit involve new businesses and business models which can provide long term exploitation of Goonhilly’s facilities.
Whether this collaboration between Goonhilly and Spacebit will produce the desired space blockchain ecosystem is open to debate, and the test of time. Nevertheless the rationale, both for blockchain and for new business models, seems attractive. Enterprise Times wishes it well.