Forget the moon, asteroids are the thing now: blockchain start-up ConsenSys acquired a space-mining company (yes, really).
The company in question, Planetary Resources has some high-profile backers, including Larry Page, the co-founder of Internet and cartography behemoth Google. However, after a recent round of funding failed to raise sufficient funds an opportunity presented itself to ConsenSys and they took it. But why?
Whilst Planetary Resources haven’t – to precisely nobody’s surprise – yet managed to actually mine any asteroids, they have successfully launched two satellites in the last year.
Satellites in space are now so commonplace that old, obsolete ones are actually considered a space hazard. However, there was one interesting element to Arkyd-6’s launch: the first commercial mid-wave infrared (MWIR) imager ever to be operated in space.
The first test was to detect water on Earth and it was successful. The endgame of this technology is for future space miners to scan asteroids for water.
Once space mining is actually a thing, ConsenSys hopes to apply Ethereum’s smart contracts to facilitate private-ordering and commerce in space. The general functionality of smart contracts suggests that once elements are mined they can be attributed to pre-made orders and then automatically transferred to those making the orders.
Specifically, Brian Israel (general counsel to Planetary Resources, who will now be joining ConsenSys) stated:
“Ethereum smart contract functionality is a natural solution for private-ordering and commerce in space — the only domain of human activity not ordered around territorial sovereignty — in which a diverse range of actors from a growing number of countries must coordinate and transact”
The entire venture is fairly pie-in-the-sky right now, but it does nonetheless point to a potential future use case for blockchain technology.