Pavlo Tanasyuk, founder of Spacebit talked with Aneta Karbowiak about Orbit:Linx, his joint venture between Spacebit and Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station and his project Link X built on EOS.IO blockchain.
LinkX is a decentralised communications platform and part of Orbit:Linx aiming at creating an efficient system of communication between Earth and space.
What Spacebit and Goonhilly Earth Space Station are planning to do?
It’s all about the communication between the satellites and Earth on the ground. There’s no internet in space. Who wants to use it, needs to make sure first that the providers have the dishes available or if they’re in a different part of the world where they don’t have the coverage to the satellites going into a different part of the world.
If you want to talk to that satellite you would usually call a ground station provider and you’d ask them to provide a specific satellite at a specific time for a specific price. You have to call and negotiate, you have to make a specific transaction and it takes sometimes hours and even days so it’s a very lengthy process and that’s why a market for satellite communication is very fragmented because there’s no system which connects that and that’s what Orbit:Linx is about.
It’s about automation, automatic scheduling and bidding process for satellite communication. What we’re actually trying to achieve here is building a new Internet for space so you’ll be able to connect with your satellite in space that’s your commercial data, scientific data, that you can talk to your satellites directly using our platform.
The next step for us would be to use demodulation services and the EOSIO platform where we can take all the data and transfer it into something that users can finally use.
I can read on your website that the purpose of your project is to democratize access to space, build new decentralised economic model, run commercial space machines and tokenize space machines. What does it all mean?
It’s a new economic model I’ve been talking for a while. It’s tokenization of space assets. What does it all mean? It means that at the moment if you invest in a space venture it is a VC which cycle is very long, there’s no liquidity and that a new class of security assets for space that are able to support a specific company or missions and that make investments more liquid so that you can have a flow at a real time so you can exit and get new investors which is very important during the cycle of the investment. This is very important for space industries because most of the investment in this industry are long term investments and actually our next step would be the launch of a new specific space fund which would be using first cryptocurrency and then a model of tokenization and then building a specific regulated exchange for space assets where we can tokenize them and open them to sophisticated investors and then finally open them to individual users or people who would be able to participate directly to space projects.
The fund will be announced very soon. The fund will launch next week and will be investing in space projects that are not necessarily blockchain related.
A regulated exchange? Regulated by who?
Yes, it’s a new concept of an exchange. It’s not like a normal crypto exchange.
Are you doing an ICO or airdropping to users?
No, we are not doing this. There is a native token with Orbit:Linx that will be used for payments and obviously, one day in the future, it might be listed on crypto exchanges because there’s a real usecase of the stock and there’s the need of the market forces to be part of the Orbit:Linx. Systems that will definitely open it for exchanges as well and list it but for now it’s solely B2B applications. There’re stocks that are used by the community of space companies who are using the stocks to transact on the system themselves.
How Orbit:Linx will use the EOSIO platform?
So yes, we build it on EOS platform and obviously, we’ll open it to other players of the space community. Now it’s in beta testing on EOS and when we’ll open it up it will be possible to go to the website and use our platform and get access to space data. Actually to any kind of open space data or you’ll be able to acquire any space data and these data will be streamed from the satellite. Great use of data is when they will be free for education, for educational institutions as well.
For us, we can see a few aspects of applications of blockchain for space. First one is technology: how blockchain will be used for space communications or for example for an operation system on a spacecraft or something else. There will be also financial applications like tokenization: how you’ll tokenize future missions, how you’ll attract capital.
How will you use IOTA’s Qubic?
IOTA is specifically for IoT and fur multiple spacecrafts to communicate with each other and the essence of that protocol is that it allows IoT communication and it allows for multiple devices of small form satellites or maybe rovers on the moon to talk to each other and communicate and reach consensus on the network. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to run EOS blockchain. The thing we need to make sure is that those transactions do talk back to our main network.
How all these devices will communicate with each other because we know there’re no wires and no Internet in space?
We use radio communication which is radar and in the future, it will be lasers. Laser communication will be one of the aspects of the future space machines so for us it’s radio communication and lasers and obviously it’s demodulating those signals and streaming that data and commercial information streaming into the internet and obviously, that system would connect using IPs.
Where would you place Orbit:Linx between the kind of projects operated by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson?
We are doing things that could actually help Elon Musk and help Richard Branson to talk to their satellites. Elon Musk is planning to launch quite a few satellites in a couple of years and he will need ground stations and he will need some automated processes because we’re talking about data, a massive amount of data that are read by these satellites and you need the communication and you have to be able to schedule satellites and you have to get some data and you have to be able to talk to them as well and for that our system is unique and it allows distributed consensus and scheduling and bidding for time spots for satellite applications.
We remove the bottleneck of calling, texting and transferring money. So we can definitely work with Elon.
IOTA on Mars does make sense as we can help rovers talk to each other and reach consensus and maybe even fund Elon Musk’s mission in the future. That’s the possibility as well.
Can you describe us your space Internet?
I’d call Orbit:Linx system a future of space internet. We’ll use EOSIO blockchain to create Internet for space communications.
Do you create it in order to replace the existing Internet?
This is not an Internet to replace Internet on Earth but definitely, there will be an Earth connection of different nodes and companies and people who want an access to the satellites, who want to talk to the rovers and maybe to people in the future on the Moon orbit and on Mars.
They’ll be using Orbit:Linx communication system created by Spacebit, however, I don’t see that this system will replace internet on the ground because it’s already quite efficient.
Obviously, blockchain might bring something useful in terms of Internet of value and that regard also to space economy where you’ll be able to actually transact the value at the same time as you transact data. It might be used in the future as space banking. You’ll have asteroids and mining in the future so something like space Internet developed by Orbit:Linx can also be a system which will basically allow the transaction of value but that’s a long time from now.
What possible drawbacks to your project there are? With 15.000 satellites already in space and much more coming how will you prevent that these devices don’t collide?
Blockchain can be leveraged to help the cross satellite communication system. IOTA can help satellites to identify and then to talk to each other and then to schedule movements around Earth and space. This is something that is possible and can mitigate the risk of collision but obviously, it will have to go along with other new developments. It’s not only blockchain but it will be many other complementary technologies which will have to be developed but in the future its quite likely that we’ll have to use some sort of automated consensus between space nodes in order to avoid collision or agree on what they’re doing, where they’re going and things like that.
Will you also need some governance model in your project?
Absolutely. Governance is something that is not something established but is open. I recently was a speaker at the International Astronomical Congress and topics around space governance were touched as well. It was first time that these topics were touched at a major space conference.
Space now is like Wild West…
Well, it’s not like Wild West. There ’s regulation. There’s space treaty, there’s Moon treaty and individual governments are also creating laws about space. For example, Luxembourg is one of those governments which allows extraction of space resources by organisations and that’s something that is new. That’s why we believe that governments like Luxembourg are in unique position in developing space economy. Hopefully, United Kingdom is also in the ability to do this as well.
What role plays Artificial Intelligence within your project?
Artificial Intelligence will be quite important. Source of agreements and communications of satellites. Within our Orbit:LinkX system we have basic elements of Artificial Intelligence which have been used for scheduling system. Obviously, they’re not as intelligent as you plan them to be and they’ll be more intelligent in the future and that’s what is very important for the future space machines and satellites. We’ll need a sophisticated artificial intelligence mechanics and there should be some consensus mechanism as humans won’t be able to obviously control all those activities in space simultaneously so you’ll need some level of automation. We are moving towards a new industrial revolution which could be called 2.0 where you have processes of automation and planning of the future economy and space industry is one of those industries where it finds it’s use case.
What’s the main commercial opportunity for space projects. What’s the driving point of this industry?
Oh, there are many. So let me talk about space not necessarily blockchain related. There are so many articles and also there’s no a kind of space like a system right now. There are many gaps. If we’re talking about Moon exploration or Mars or companies building rockets like Elon Musk or others but there’s no actual framework which connects them and there are still gaps in the supply chain and I believe that there are many any space companies to come and helping those developments. And when you think about Musk that he’s doing great with is rockets but obviously there are many other larger and smaller companies as well.
What other projects do you have other than your Orbit:Linx scheduling platform?
We have some projects related to exploration but this is something that we’ll be revealing in the next couple of months.
How your communication will be assured when there’s climate change?
That’s why we have a decentralised consensus mechanism where we will have multiple ground stations and not one. Goonhilly has 60 dishes around the world and the number will increase so you have the capacity to pass those kinds of events of the nature that’s why will can mitigate risks of the single platform and most of all you can have resilience in the system. If one communication channel fails you can use automatically another communication channel and schedule it automatically without the need to call and set it up a new connection.