The space age is shifting into a higher gear with extraordinary momentum. The US Congress recently directed NASA to prepare a plan for deep space exploration, which should include sending humans to Mars. Concurrently, private companies continue to create and expand the commercial space market.
In this regard, the fact that Bitcoin is borderless and possesses other relevant, unique features makes it essential for a space-based economy.
NASA to Send Humans to Mars
Space exploration is gaining renewed interest. The US Senate and the US House of Representatives passed Bill S.442, respectively, in February and March 2017. The bill authorizes NASA to spend $19.5 billion in the fiscal year 2017, to work towards accomplishing objectives to advance human deep space exploration, including a journey to Mars.
The bill also directs NASA to develop a strategic plan, focusing on information security and cybersecurity.
Bitcoin-Friendly Companies Lead the Space Industry
The space industry is growing exponentially, particularly, in those sectors related to space tourism, space habitat, space power, and space vehicles.
On February 27, SpaceX announced plans to send tourists around the Moon. This mission would be in the context of pursuing SpaceX’s ultimate goal of transporting people to Mars.
Another bitcoin-friendly company focusing on space tourism is Virgin Galactic, which is expanding its operations. According to its website, “Effective today [March 2, 2017], our family of space companies numbers three. As with before, Virgin Galactic will be our commercial human spaceflight services provider, and The Spaceship Company will continue to offer design, manufacturing and testing services to build vehicles for Virgin Galactic. And our small satellite Launcherone team will become our newest company: Virgin Orbit.”
Sir Richard Branson, the founder of these companies, believes that “Bitcoin is working.” Branson has announced that space tourists will be able to pay for their tours in bitcoins.
In this regard, Sean Patterson, PR Manager of Worldcore, wrote, “Now, Bitcoin holders can get a chance to join the future passengers of SpaceShip II, and the price of a round trip is approximately 340 BTC.”
Bitcoin Shoots for the Stars and Beyond
Almost from Bitcoin’s inception, cryptocurrency enthusiasts and scientists have envisioned Bitcoin-based operations in space.
Do You Think They’ll Use the US Dollars on Mars?For instance, the idea of setting up satellite networks in space for Bitcoin operations has long been pursued. Indeed, early Bitcoin miner and developer Jeff Garzik was discussing and working on the idea of nanosatellites and Bitcoin in space as early as 2013.
Indeed, Jeff Garzik was planning “to launch a network of mini-satellites to beam the blockchain of Bitcoin down to every corner of the earth – circumventing any attempts at censorship,” according to a 2014 interview.
As a result, Bitsats, nanosatellites that operate in low Earth orbit, were designed for Bitcoin operations.
The Bitsat project envisions a network comprising 24 satellites orbiting the Earth. Each satellite in the network would function as a Bitcoin node.
A Bitcoin network operating from space could enhance Bitcoin’s freedom, writes Danny Bradbury. “Each of these satellites will save the entire Bitcoin blockchain, providing a backup for the earthbound Bitcoin network. They will receive updates with new blockchain data from selected ground stations, during 15-minute passes overhead. They will then independently verify that information to make sure that it is accurate.”
Bitcoin’s Intergalactic Challenges
Granted, interplanetary distance and the speed of light will have to be factored in. Mars is very far away. Therefore, the communications time delay between Earth and Mars can vary between 3 and 22 minutes, depending on their relative positions.
So, the time delay would be greater than the blockchain’s average transaction delay, which is about ten minutes by design.
On Mars and other far away planets, perhaps a “Marscoin” could be used. Then, the “Marscoin” transaction could be settled with the Bitcoin’s blockchain. Thus, Bitcoin could act as a truly universal currency.
Earth-Moon transactions would not be an issue because the communications delay is only 1.3 seconds.
Bitcoin is here to stay. Eventually, humans will settle in space, and astropreneurship will become a mainstream activity.
Commerce in space will undoubtedly be cashless. Fiat currencies, already obsolete, will be of no use in a space-based economy. Therefore, let’s apply the amazing potential of Bitcoin and its blockchain technology to create innovative business solutions related to the emerging space economy.
Images courtesy of NASA, SpaceX, and Shutterstock.