NASA, Researcher Team Up To Use Ethereum Blockchain in Space Travel

Apr 17, 2018 at 19:03

A research project funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking to utilize the Ethereum blockchain in improve deep space communication and navigation.

NASA has granted a three-year $300,000 Early Career Faculty grant to Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis, University of Akron’s assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

She is leading an effort to develop a “Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm” (RNCP) that uses the Ethereum blockchain technology to create spacecraft that “think” on their own to automatically avoid floating space debris.

“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 Kocsis said. “The blockchain consensus protocols will be further explored to improve the resilience of the infrastructure.”

This is the first time NASA’s Glenn Research Center explored the use of blockchain to space communications and navigation, advanced communications program manager Thomas Kacpura said.

If the projects is successful, he said the project “would support decentralized processing among NASA space network nodes in a secure fashion, resulting in a more responsive, resilient scalable network that can integrate current and future networks in a consistent manner.”

“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,” Kacpura said.

In deep space travel, the educational institution said it would be better if spacecrafts can automatically maneuver its way away from floating debris to avoid a damaging collision. This is to lessen human intervention and the risk of message disruption.

“I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically,” Wei Kocsis said. “I am honored that NASA recognized my work, and I am excited to continue challenging technology’s ability to think and do on its own.”

Wei Kocsis said she hopes the blockchain technology will not only allow spacecraft to complete more tasks and collect more data, but also will give scientists more time to analyze that information.