Lockheed Martin, Filecoin Foundation to Explore Hosting Blockchain Nodes in Space

The two plan to identify a test mission by August 2022.

AccessTimeIconMay 23, 2022 at 3:36 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:47 p.m. UTC

DAVOS, Switzerland — Defense contractor Lockheed Martin (LMT) and the Filecoin Foundation could soon make an open-source blockchain network accessible in space, the two organizations announced Monday at an event hosted by the Filecoin Foundation on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

Lockheed and Filecoin plan to identify a satellite or other space-faring platform that can hold the technology to operate an InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) node, identify that platform's needs and try and identify a test mission.

IPFS is an open-source data storage and sharing protocol aimed at speeding up data downloads by letting network participants hold or share information. The idea is to reduce latency when downloading data from remote locations, such as the moon, said Marta Belcher, the head of policy and general counsel at Protocol Labs.

Protocol Labs, a key player in the Filecoin ecosystem, is the original developer behind IPFS' code.

"[We're] redesigning a lot of the technologies [that] just aren't ready to work in space," Belcher said at Monday's event.

Joe Landon, vice president of advanced programs development at Lockheed, said the move is meant to anticipate an emerging "space economy."

"In the future, we'll have one satellite refueling another. That's a transaction that takes place entirely in space that doesn't really have a nexus back on Earth. Decentralization makes sense for that," Landon said.

Moreover, at present, satellites interact mainly with servers on Earth, but the vast distances of space mean instructions sent to objects orbiting the moon or Mars won't arrive for several minutes. That could be forever if urgent instructions or data needs to be shared.

Having satellites able to act as relays for this kind of data would reduce this latency, he said.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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