In the last couple of weeks, SpaceChain held two AMAs — one via its Telegram English Group platform on Nov 14 with co-founders Jeff Garzik and Zee Zheng, and one via Korean media site BlockDaily on Nov 22 with Zee Zheng. We have compiled the AMAs from both platforms here. Thank you for your participation.
1. I know that the Ethereum integration has been in progress. It requires powerful hardware resources for POW. As you know, hardware computing power is limited on a CubeSat. I was wondering how you were planning on resolving the hardware resource limitation.
Jeff Garzik: We use a light node and do not perform mining on the satellite. We are working with our partners to further resolve this issue.
2. One of the special things about SpaceChain is the development of both software and hardware. Is it possible for your team to form a partnership with a hardware foundry or a mining ASIC company?
Jeff Garzik: SpaceChain has hardware engineers and we also have a partnership with a chip company to help create chips. These are custom space ASICs. Mining consumes too much electricity to be possible in space without a plutonium radioisotope electric generator.
3. When you interview job candidates for engineering positions, what is the most important trait you look for?
Zee Zheng: Our HR department will do the initial interview. Jeff Garzik, or someone in our technical team will do the technical interview. Zee Zheng will do the final check afterwards. If you are interested in joining us, you can send your resume to email@example.com.
4. Jeff, what is your vision for SpaceChain?
Jeff Garzik: We want to democratize access to space – we want to bring everyone to space (virtually). University students and developers should only have to pay a couple of dollars to access these computer systems in space. Space is for everyone, not just big governments and billionaires.
5. How can you encourage people right now to participate?
Jeff Garzik: Participate in SpaceChain forums like this Telegram group, and help encourage developers to build with the SpaceChain API.
6. Is everything on GitHub?
Jeff Garzik: Yes, and it is open source. https://github.com/spacechain/
7. How long will ETH integration and BCH Integration take?
Zee Zheng: ETH is already in progress. We are still deciding what is the next integration after ETH. We will keep the community updated.
8. Are there more launches planned for this year/how many more space nodes are you planning for in 2019?
Zee Zheng: After the launch in October 2018, our team is focused on testing, we will let the community know more once we get the results.
9. If this project is successful, what would change in our daily lives?
Zee Zheng: We think the first major change would be in smartphones. Before open source software was the norm, only phone manufacturers were able to decide what goes into a phone. Now with the open-source SpaceChain OS, there are millions of applications being developed by brilliant third parties. We want to make satellites as accessible as possible.
10. Is there a plan to get venture capital (VC) investment?
11. How much latency are you measuring between the ground stations and LEO satellite? Has this been any issue for the nodes?
Jeff Garzik: High latency, which is normal for LEO space. Blockchain technology can handle high latency environments very well, better than normal Internet conditions, which is why we think it is great technology for space-based applications. We are also looking at GEO + LEO solutions, but that payload seems to take a bit too much power.
12. In what way do you think blockchain will be used in space and how will it look in the future?
Zee Zheng: Great question! We are working on Space + blockchain in four major ways:
- Distributed Satellite Constellation – there are many space companies proposing that they will be building their own constellations however, this may not be the most efficient way. SpaceChain is envisioning an open-source standard for hardware, software, and communication protocols for LEO satellites. Utilizing these protocols, we’d like to empower people to build a multi-vendor, multi-jurisdiction, decentralized satellite network. Especially for the smaller satellite companies or space startups, this model makes more economic sense and is much more efficient.
- SpaceChain OS – It’s a real-time OS that supports the function of complete blockchain nodes. The OS integrates Qtum technology to create an open-source platform that will help accelerate space development and exploration. We’ve completed Qtum integration and we launched our second satellite last month to flight test it. Our test was successful and we are now working on integrating ETH on SpaceChain OS. This OS essentially functions as the core backbone for many of SpaceChain’s missions as it enables compatibility between the company’s hardware and developer applications. It acts as a bridge that allows both participants in the space arena and SpaceChain to “speak” to each other. Software (app) developers can upload their applications on to the satellites for commercial purposes, and the public can purchase them with SpaceChain (SPC) tokens. The space community as a whole can appreciate and experience the reliability, stability, and capacity of these applications that are uploaded onto the satellites.
- Space Industry info exchange platform – This third part is something we’ve just begun to work on, but we envision this: The current methods that space-based projects have for finding vendors, securing facilities, and making their projects operational, are outdated. SpaceChain is focused on creating an information portal for space-based projects, a place where startups can identify launch and hardware opportunities and share information. This is all backed by a robust reputation and review system for identifying the best organizations in the ecosystem.
- Space Mission Studio – When we first started SpaceChain, we were the only player in the space and blockchain industry. We are a pioneer in this market, and we encourage other companies to get involved. We are creating an incubator where SpaceChain will offer its unique perspective on platform and technology development, tokenization, and networking.
13. Why did SpaceChain migrate Qtum to Ethereum and what is the advantage of that?
Zee Zheng: Qtum has one of the best Proof of Stake (PoS) smart contract platforms. It provides the stability we want and consumes very little energy, which is ideal for us in the blockchain/ space industry. If we host a full node on a satellite, Proof of Work (PoW) will be very challenging due to rapid battery burn. Qtum also has a more secure financial infrastructure than Ethereum does as it uses an unspent transaction output (UTXO) model.
Jeff (our CTO) and I are fans of both ETH and BTC, so we immediately gravitated towards Qtum. However, Qtum is still in relatively early stages, and requires more development tools and business development to support the ecosystem. Ethereum is the leading smart contract platform that most blockchain users are familiar with, hence it will be easier for SpaceChain to promote user acquisition with ERC-20. Many exchanges only accept ERC-20 based tokens.
14. How could SpaceChain be a solution for the financial industry in areas where the Internet is difficult to use such as the desert?
Zee Zheng: Once the satellite constellation is formed, it will have global coverage. We are the only company that can perform a multi-signature blockchain transaction with satellite payloads, which is an essential part for financial institutions.
15. China is highly regarded in the space industry. Do you have plan to expand this business in China?
Zee Zheng: We are a Singapore-based foundation and we understand China is one of the main players for the commercial space. The first two launches (Feb 2 and Oct 25, 2018) were on Chinese launch service providers. However, our team is international and we will be launching in other countries as well.
16. What is the utility of the SPC token and why is the token needed?
Zee Zheng: SPC tokens are used to access our development tools for SpaceChain OS as well as to perform tests on hardware. The system that we are developing lets our community use SPC tokens to book activities with the satellites that have adopted our system. The new space economy will be highly focused on international collaboration and having a token facilitates value transmission within the ecosystem.
17. If you were to introduce SPC to an ordinary person, how would you introduce it to them in one sentence?
Zee Zheng: We are building a way for the ordinary person to access and directly operate satellites from your personal computers, phone or other devices. We are continuing to make satellites more affordable and making applications easier to use.
18. The more I learned about SpaceChain, the more I felt like it’s a huge project trying to contribute to the development of mankind rather than just dealing with the space industry. What’s the final goal for SpaceChain?
Zee Zheng: We want to make space more accessible. We want to let people know that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be a part of this exciting space industry.