Succeeding in the fusion of blockchain and space, Zee Zheng believes that these technologies will enable a new era of seamless global collaboration. Having launched 3 blockchain-enabled satellite payloads into orbit within SpaceChain’s first year of operation, Zee has been recognized as a pioneer in this industry and has been sought as a speaker at events like Space Tech Summit, SpaceTide and Space Forum.
Zee Zheng (SpaceChain CEO)
Interview Date : 23th March 2020
The most important feature that we have added is the multi-signature. Instead of one key, we are using multiple keys to enhance security. In December 2019, we carried out a launch on a SpaceX rocket to send our blockchain hardware wallet technology (our version of a bitcoin wallet) which was later installed in the International Space Station (ISS) which demonstrates how users can perform space-based multi-signature transactions, increasing the security of the operation.
As to how it works – if two parties decide to create a transaction, they have to send a request and have our satellite payload provide a digital authentication to validate the transaction. For example, if we were to get hacked, the hacker would have to go through our SpaceChain system. As opposed to land-based internet, we use satellite communication which is a completely different method. The reason for this is because hacks are usually carried out directly on servers, with around 99% of hacks carried out through land-based internet. Thus, we are using an alternative way of communication to prevent hacking.
Another interesting fact is that we are making the transactions happen slower. For example, we can set up the transaction times such that unless our payload does not pass a certain point on the Earth’s surface three times (which is going to take a couple of hours) the transaction will not be approved. This is really bad news if you are a hacker, because when you are hacking a system, you would want the transaction to take place as soon as possible, and not face hours of delay. If many hacking attempts are successful because transactions are executed very fast, forcing a delay of a few hours can make sure that these attempts are stopped and funds kept safe. We are seeing a lot of interest in such a product.
Changing the communication method of data transmission like making calls through a satellite phone rather than a mobile phone
Changing the communication method of data transmission is another advantage of our system. We do not change the nature of blockchain, but we improve the method that data is transferred. We want to be supportive of the scalability trend that Ethereum and other coin companies are investing in. However, we will not intervene in what they do. From our end, we are essentially changing the method of communication, similar to choosing to call someone through a satellite phone instead of a regular land-based phone, the content of communication does not change, but the functions that we are using to communicate will change. That change basically reduces the risk of us being hacked. At the same time, we are changing the infrastructure and the concept of transaction that we are using. Instead of receiving the approval signature right away, we have what we call “approval orbits”. Unless the payload orbits around the earth for a selected number of times, the transactions will not be approved. Also, we don’t want to build our own blockchain because there are already so many wonderful blockchain projects with so much innovation. What we want to do as a space and blockchain integrator, is to improve the system.
We do not build our own blockchain
We do not build our own blockchain, but we integrate with blockchains. We have already integrated with Ethereum and bitcoin and partnered with Qtum, and we continuously integrate their system updates as well.
Global decentralized satellite network
One of the biggest risks with smart contracts is that it is overestimated especially with the roles that smart contracts play in businesses. In the early years, everybody was excited and wanted to automate everything with smart contracts. However, many applications are very data heavy and they require more complicated infrastructure. If you put all your data in a smart contract, it may turn out to be a bigger risk than a problem solver. At SpaceChain, by using smart contracts as a link for collaboration between space companies and satellites, it will create a trustless network between the parties, and this level of collaboration is what geographically distributed businesses are seeking.
In conventional contracts, many conversations and meetings are necessary to build trust and establish business collaboration. We believe that with smart contracts in blockchain, data sharing agreements can be established more easily. I believe that smart contracts will be the future for business agreements.
Our ultimate goal is to build a global decentralized satellite network that can support not only blockchain, but many other industries as well. One of the biggest challenges that we see in the space industry is that many companies are competing with one another to make proposals for their own constellations. What happened with one of the biggest investment firms earlier this year was that their biggest projects were about to run out of cash. This happens very often in the space industry as many companies are competing with each other. Our proposal is that instead of each company having their own project, we can work together to build a constellation to serve the community.
A big reason why businesses do not take this approach is due to trust issues. Space is complicated, and there is a lot of confidential information, so we want SpaceChain to become a trust system between parties and between different satellites. Thus, it can be shared and businesses can trust one another, and most importantly, trust the system.
Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada
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