[SatNews] “While this announcement may surprise some people, it is actually very much in line with our spacecraft development plans, including another private spacecraft system we will be announcing in a few months that will use many of the same components and systems.
Bitcoins took one small step towards space today with the announcement of a preliminary design contract between Jeff Garzik’s Dunvegan Space Systems and Deep Space Industries Inc. as part of a drive to develop an orbital system for the not-for-profit BitSat project. The BitSats will comprise an orbital node for the bitcoin network now on Earth with a constellation of tiny BitSats continuously broadcasting the latest bitcoin block from orbit, enhancing the resiliency of bitcoin in the event of disruptions or outages to the terrestrial bitcoin P2P mesh network.
“Private spaceflight is breaking big, driving down costs so that great ideas like BitSats are within reach of even volunteer nonprofits,” said Garzik, who is organizing a donation-supported campaign to build and fly the system. “We want to keep bitcoin healthy and free by finding alternative ways to distribute block chain data.”
Bitcoin transactions become official once a group of them are encoded—or “solved” by independent computing efforts— into a block and added to the blockchain, a record of every bitcoin transfer ever made. BitSats broadcasting the most recently solved blocks will provide a cross-check to verify that the blocks available on the terrestrial network haven’t been spoofed, as well as providing the latest blocks to locations off the terrestrial grid.
“Deep Space has always said we are about using space resources—this includes space itself,” said Rick Tumlinson, the company’s Chairman. “While this announcement may surprise some people, it is actually very much in line with our spacecraft development plans, including another private spacecraft system we will be announcing in a few months that will use many of the same components and systems. This means much lower costs—very important for the donation-based BitSat effort.”
BitSats may employ the CubeSat standard of individual cubes 10 cm (4 inches) on a side, with one to three such cubes potentially making up each BitSat. They will be sent into orbit as hitchhikers on the launch of much larger satellites, lowering the cost of placing them in orbit.
“I believe space holds the promise of our future, and also offers a lot of utility right now,” said Garzik. “I chose DSI for this project based on depth of their proposal, the expertise they have internally and within their network and the fact that they are pushing the cutting edge – just as we are at Dunvegan.”
Deep Space Industries will develop detailed requirements for the space and ground segments of a BitSat constellation, and preliminary plans for the architecture, operations concept, and spacecraft design. The resulting blueprint for next steps will be published in August for open community evaluation at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/bitsat-project.
“The goal is to design a downlink system from the satellites to the public that is as open and inexpensive as possible,” said Daniel Faber, the chief operating officer for Deep Space. “While most people will buy their downlink setups from a vendor, ideally a smart hobbyist should be able to download a design and build their own receiver from much less than $10,000.”
Dunvegan Space Systems is an early stage spaceflight micro-company. DSS operates the non-profit BitSat project. A strong proponent of private spaceflight and open source, DSS believes the private spaceflight industry is best incentivized through small, cost effective, attainable missions based on open designs. The BitSat project fits within that larger vision. Dunvegan Space Systems is exploring technologies and business models whose goal is a solar system wired for networking, with data centers on Luna and Mars. These missions and business models are made possible through expanded competition and lower costs in the launch and spacecraft manufacturing industries. Through the design and eventual deployment of the BitSat constellation, Dunvegan Space seeks to demonstrate that a functional space-based network may be developed at low cost.
Deep Space Industries is a space operations, exploration and resources company. With several billionaires and nations competing to reduce the cost of launching into orbit and announcing plans for facilities and voyages into the Solar System, Deep Space is moving into position to supply the materials and propellant needed to cut the cost of staying and operating beyond the Earth. Deep Space is tapping “local” in-space resources such as near Earth asteroids, starting with a prospecting campaign to find the richest targets, and then developing cost-effective ways to process asteroid materials into products for the in-space markets. Steps now underway include developing space capabilities, a knowledge base and top level expertise in all aspects of space related to the discovery and production of space resources and enhancing low-cost space commerce, from spacecraft systems design, operations, astrodynamics, science and resource utilization as well as user and broad customer/community development.
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