NASA Looks to Blockchain for Air Traffic Management

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NASA Looks to Blockchain for Air Traffic Management

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The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is examining the potential of employing a management blockchain to enable secure, private and anonymous communication with air traffic services.

The prototype has already employed Hyperledger and has proven to researchers that this infrastructure would offer rapid deployment at an affordable cost. The paper published by NASA highlights the benefits of the system:

“This framework features certificate authority, smart contract support, and higher-bandwidth communication channels for private information that may be used for secure communication between any specific aircraft and any particular authorized member.”

Another system planned to be launched soon, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance System (ADS-B) which will be mandatory by 2020, has had teething problems. This is mainly due to its susceptibility to third-party spoofing, the reporting of false airport positions, as it publicly broadcasts aircraft positions. NASA researchers have suggested this privacy problem could be overcome by implementing cryptography.

The new Aviation Blockchain Infrastructure (ABI), based on Hyperledger Fabric and smart contracts, would allow control over what data is shared publicly or privately with authorized entities.

NASA has been making blockchain history since its announcement last year that it would fund and co-run a research project utilizing Ethereum blockchain smart contracts in safeguarding deep space travel. That project focused specifically on implementing the technology in improving space communications, ensuring navigations that take place are safer and more efficient. Even earlier in 2017, NASA awarded a USD 330,000 grant to support the development of a blockchain-based spacecraft system.

In December 2018, development firm Blockstream launched a fifth satellite which now broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain back to Earth.


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