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Stress-testing a blockchain that is built-in space

Researchers at Villanova University are running a series of tests that could help identify future blockchain constellations. Aboard a cubesat slated to launch in the month of December with the educational charity Teachers in Space on a Firefly Aerospace Alpha rocket, researchers from Villanova’s College of Engineering designed a single-board computer to act as a node for the Ethereum Private blockchain.

Villanova researchers who were led by Hasshi Sudler, an adjunct professor of engineering, are going to evaluate the blockchain node’s ability to handle transactions after it reaches orbit. The researcher team wants to launch three satellites as a follow-up experiment to evaluate transactions between the blockchain nodes and between satellites and ground stations.

Sudler was a Villanova engineering student when he developed an interest in space. His engineering research included developing experiments for NASA’s Getaway Special, which was intended to be sent aboard the Space Shuttle. However, after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, NASA decided to end the Getaway Special experiments plan.

Sudler told SpaceNews, “As fate would have it, I’m back at university as a professor, completing Villanova’s aim of executing a space experiment.” Sudler is the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Think Tank, which is a cybersecurity consulting organization with offices throughout Japan and the United States, in addition to his role at Villanova.

What are some of the blockchain’s space applications?

Intersatellite transactions are the first. Various institutes are erecting their satellites to capture photographs or detect weather conditions. Other satellites may be interested in some of that unique data. One satellite could request information from the other as well as even pay for it using blockchain technology. The information can be delivered to clients on Earth by the receiving satellite.

If information is required in a time-critical emergency, a satellite orbiting above a client can obtain it and send it down to Earth quickly. In this instance, you’ll need satellites that can communicate with one another and transfer data.

Tell me about the forthcoming space project you’re planning.

When it comes to examining the behavior of the blockchains in space, we’ll adopt a methodical approach. We’ll begin with one single satellite operating as a node, which will communicate with numerous additional nodes on Earth. The satellite node, on the other hand, is going to be popping in as well as out of the network, which makes this blockchain unique. For the majority of 90 minutes, it needs to orbit the Earth, the satellite is going to be out of contact.

This has the potential to create some intriguing interactions. If new data enters the network, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that all of the nodes are upgraded with the same data, especially in small networks. How do you know that all of the satellites will be able to synchronize in an acceptable amount of time? There’s one more fascinating dynamic to consider. Satellites are particularly vulnerable to radiation from solar flares.

If someone attempted to set up a big network of the blockchain nodes in space to construct a blockchain network, some of these satellites may likely break down or their data would be corrupted if the sun had a severe solar event. We need to know what the blockchain’s limits are in these extreme circumstances. What would happen to the network if we lost satellites? What would be the general behavior of the satellite network, as well as what are the security consequences?

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