Blockchain technology company Blockstream has switched on its fifth satellite, taking bitcoin to space.
The Blockstream satellite network will broadcast the entire bitcoin blockchain to every populated country on Earth. There are three huge implications here:
- It brings potential access to bitcoin for the 45% of the global population without internet access.
- It ensures bitcoin is still usable in the event of a natural disaster or internet network disruption.
- It paves the way for uncensored messaging and communication services around the world, without internet service providers like Verizon.
The newest satellite is the fifth in Blockstream’s network, named Telstar 18V. It covers the Asia Pacific region, adding to its existing coverage in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa.
The bitcoin satellite node works by sending blockchain information from ground stations, called “Teleports” to the satellites in orbit. The satellites then broadcast it over a larger portion of Earth.
Blockstream Satellite Phase 2
Moving into the second phase of the project, Blockstream will also allow users to send data and communications via the satellites in private, using encryption. It means people in the most remote parts of the world can send messages securely without an internet connection.
To do this, they’ll introduce an API in January 2019 giving developers free rein to build applications that “broadcast messages globally using the Blockstream Satellite network.”
Users will pay for the secure communications using bitcoin via the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network is designed to facilitate micropayments and speed up transactions.
“Bitcoin has always been about uncensorable money,” Blockstream chief strategy officer Samson Mow told Forbes. “Now we have uncensorable communications as well.”
The Next Generation for Bitcoin
The move into space has unprecedented ramifications for cryptocurrency. It puts the bitcoin network far out of reach of governments – you can’t regulate space.
It gives power to people without an internet connection. Not only by giving them access to bitcoin and money transfer but to secure communication and even mining potential. As Blockstream CEO Adam Back explains:
“You could set up a bitcoin mining operation in the middle of the desert powered by solar.”
It might be wildly ambitious, but Blockstream is quietly revolutionizing the way we send money and communicate around the world.