Founded in 2017, SpaceChain is a community-based space platform that combines space and blockchain technologies to build the world’s first open-source blockchain-based satellite network, allowing users to develop and run decentralized applications in space.
The SpaceChain operating system will be available to anyone, anywhere in the world, all while remaining secure and immutable through proven blockchain cryptography. In doing so, SpaceChain’s vision is to remove barriers and allow a global community to access and collaborate in space. The platform has launched two nodes into space, developed and open source hardware board for both space and ground testing, developed an open source real time operating system and completed the first space-based Qtum blockchain transaction.
Zee Zheng, Co-Founder and CEO of SpaceChain talked to BlockPublisher about his background, challenges SpaceChain is facing in terms of development and how they are overcoming them. He also talked about how SpaceChain is tackling blockchain scalability problem and commented on the future of bitcoin.
- Please tell our audience a little about your and SpaceChain’s other co-founder’s background.
Zee: AS an early adopter in bitcoin and blockchain, I believe that the combination of space and blockchain technologies will broaden the frontier of our future economy, making seamless global collaboration possible. Prior to SpaceChain, I founded an education startup and ran it 4½ years until it was acquired. I have worked at Hilton, Cathay Pacific, Swire group, YongAn Brokers and a hedge fund, and is the founding partner at HQ Capital, a VC that focuses on investing disruptive technology. I am Columbia University graduate and Draper University alumnus.
Jeff Garzik, SpaceChain’s other co-founder is the key bitcoin core developer who worked under Satoshi Nakamoto for 2 years. His work can be found in every bitcoin and miner. Previously, he worked in the Linux industry for over 15 years under Linus Torvalds. He was the key Linux kernel engineer and is on the Linux Foundation Board of Directors. Jeff’s code can be found in every Android phone and data center. The co-founder of Bloq, Jeff is also the leader of the Ethereum protocol networking subsystem.
- What is the unique thing about SpaceChain and what real-world problem are you solving?
Zee: We aim to create an open platform for blockchain innovation in space through a mesh network of space nodes. We are the only Qtum blockchain platform. We are the only space blockchain company that develops its own hardware.
SpaceChain’s vision is to remove barriers and allow a global community to access and collaborate in space. We aim to create an entirely new paradigm for the space industry.
- Why is SpaceChain using blockchain to form a space collaboration platform?
Zee: Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that allows permissionless innovation. By giving developers access to a space based network, allowing them to interact with each other and users in a completely open way, and providing the means of value exchange and smart contracts, we believe that people will create things that we haven’t even thought of yet.
- What challenges SpaceChain is facing & have faced in the development?
Zee: The space industry has been non-open-source for decades, and mainly ran by government agencies. Promoting open source technology and international collaboration in the space industry has been quite challenging.
Also, initially, we aimed to build a software + hardware space-based infrastructure to support Dapps to run on our satellite platform. However, Dapps themselves at this moment are still not very functional nor have they been widely adopted. Therefore, we will need to wait for the industry to mature so we can avoid wasting time and resources.
When we started SpaceChain, there were very few players that were looking at how space and blockchain can work together. We are very glad to see that now there are many companies that are either researching or working on this fusion. We have signed more than 20+ partnerships and MOUs with partners in both blockchain and space industries.
- How much funding SpaceChain has raised since it never had any ICO?
Zee: Instead of a public ICO, we did private placements from institutions. Since most of the terms are NDAed, we cannot publish the information. However, our foundation is in good standing and we have enough funds to cover several years of operations.
- What is your opinion about the future of blockchain?
Zee: We believe in a multi-blockchain future. Utilizing these protocols, we’d like to empower people to build a multi-vendor, multi-jurisdiction, decentralized space node network that opens a new technological frontier for humanity.
- What solution do you think would work for the scalability issue of blockchain?
Zee: The way we do it is that we are building hardware that can support blockchain and also the kernel for the operation system that can integrate with other chains. We are confident that there are many other very talented and capable players in the industry that are already working on solving the scalability issue and if we find any one that fits our needs we will do the integration of that chain and SpaceChain OS. We have completed Qtum integration and are good progress with ETH integration.
- In your opinion, what industries can actually benefit from blockchain technology?
Zee: We believe that while blockchain may not reach all industries in the short term, in the long term, blockchain will reorganize the entire structure of our information networks and remake the way we exchange value.
- What are your thoughts about proof-of-work & proof-of-stake? Which one is better & why?
Zee: We like both. Proof-of-work has a very solid foundation and history. Proof-of-stake is more energy efficient. We initially used the Qtum blockchain which was the first working PoS smart contract platform because our satellite hardware has strict restrictions on energy consumption. We are also exploring ETH and BTC light nodes to fit with our hardware. One of the interesting things we encounter when we work with PoS is that there are many centralized institutions that still play very key role in the blockchain industry. For instance, if 10% or more of a PoS project token is stored in a centralized exchange, it is difficult to monitor or manage how the exchange use the stake that they have in their hand. Without proper transparency, it is difficult to manage network risk.
- What will trigger massive adoption of blockchain and any advice you want to give to new blockchain startups?
Zee: We can’t predict what will trigger massive blockchain adoption, perhaps speculation will be the prime driver in the short term, but as soon as the issues of scalability and abstracting away the complexity of these protocols is solved, we have no doubt that something will be the blockchain ‘killer app’.
Sustainability. Startups must be designed to deal with the volatility of this nascent market. We all want to achieve great things, but we can’t do that if we can’t keep the lights on.
- What are your views on the current bear market and the future of bitcoin?
Zee: This bear market will pass. And when it does it will get really interesting. I believe bitcoin is a long-lasting global value transmission vehicle. It is also the first asset that is mathematically proven to be scarce. It will take a major role in finance systems and many other global businesses.
- Do you think we will see bitcoin ETF approval in the near future?
Zee: It is difficult to predict. I believe the bitcoin ETF being widely discussed and researched by academia, institutions and governments is more important than actually having it. The approval should take as long as it needs to. The best thing we can do is to spread the word and develop the bitcoin community.