A NASA funded research project is planning to use the Ethereum blockchain to improve and automate its spacecraft navigation and improve space communication. The project will be headed by Dr Jin Wei Kocsis an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Akron.

She has received a three-year $330,000 Early Career Faculty grand from NASA to develop a ‘Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm’ (RNCP) that will use the Ethereum blockchain technology and smart contracts, which don’t need mediation to facilitate a transaction.

A project of stratospheric proportions

The project aims to create a spacecraft that has the power to think by itself, as well as the ability to automatically detect and avoid floating debris. This innovation is not only a faster and more efficient way of detecting debris but it will also reduce the dependence on human scientists on earth. As well as creating a spaceship that can think, Wei hopes to work on technology which will enable the craft to carry out a range of tasks automatically as well as collect more data.

“In this project, the Ethereum blockchain technology will be exploited to develop a decentralized, secure, and cognitive networking and computing infrastructure for deep space exploration,” Wei stated.

An intergalactic first

The Advanced Communications Program Manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre, Thomas Kacpura stated that this will be the first time that the blockchain will be used for space communications and navigation. He added that should the project be successful it would be able to support the decentralised processing among NASA space network nodes in a secure manner which would result in a more responsive and resilient scalable network.

Mr Kacpura added that “It is expected that the potential is high to contribute to the next generation space networks, and also allow tech transition of these algorithms for commercial systems.”

 

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