The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funding and co-running a research project that utilizes Ethereum blockchain smart contracts in safeguarding deep space travel.
The project focuses specifically on implementing the technology in improving space communications, ensuring navigations that take place are safer and more efficient. Should the research developments be successful, NASA plans to employ the results on deep space probes that potentially could be automated to avoid rubble in space.
Currently, such spacecraft rely on communications from scientists on Earth to relay crucial information regarding obstacles in space, as opposed to the cognitive structure proposed by this research project. Those behind the project propose that Ethereum-based smart contracts have the potential to independently track space debris, preventing significant damage to the spacecraft.
The project has been dubbed the ‘Resilient Networking and Computer Paradigm’, lead by the assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Akron (UA), Dr Jin Wei Kocsis. A three-year USD 330,000 grant has been secured by Dr Kocsis to fund the project.
The UA released an announcement citing Dr Kocsis on the project, who said, ”The Ethereum blockchain technology will be exploited to develop a decentralized, secure, and cognitive networking and computing infrastructure for deep space exploration. The blockchain consensus protocols will be further explored to improve the resilience of the infrastructure.”
Dr Kocsis also spoke about her hopes that a finalized version of the technology could automize the collection of data simultaneously with other tasks, such as providing spacial intelligence for the spacecraft. This has the potential to save both time and money, as fewer scientists would required to operate these automated functions.
Adding to her statement, Dr Kocsis said, “I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically.”
As of yet, no information has been released stating whether it is the public or private Ethereum blockchain used for the research project. Regardless, this proposes an exciting venture for blockchain technology, as well as that for space communications and travel. As NASA’s advanced communications program manager at the Glenn Research Center put it, this could lead to ”next-generation space networks”.