At first glance, an out-of-this-world plan to launch a network of crypto satellites into space, sounds like one of those grandiose ideas that never got much further than a vague outline in an ICO white paper back in 2017.
But when the plan comes from a team including a Google X engineer and the co-founder of the first private mission to reach the moon, the project suddenly seems a lot more feasible.
The idea behind CryptoSat — which was indeed first outlined in a November 2017 paper — is to build a prototype nano-satellite the size of a coffee mug and launch it into outer space, where it can act as a perfectly isolated and secure cryptographic module.
Once the concept is proven — sometime next year hopefully — an entire constellation of CryptoSats can be launched to orbit the Earth, providing blockchain infrastructure that can be used for everything from mining to timestamping documents.
While it isn’t the first project to combine blockchain and space — Blockstream and SpaceChain do as well — CryptoSat has some unique features and an impressive core team.
Well that sounds expensive
As private space programs scale up, it’s become surprisingly affordable to build a ‘CubeSat‘ using off-the-shelf components, and then book some spare capacity on a launch to get it into orbit. There are more than one-thousand nano-satellites flying about up there.
The project is the brainchild of two Stanford graduates: SpaceIL co-founder Yonatan Winetraub, 34, and the Chief Technology Officer of Anjuna Security, Yan Michalevsky, 38. The pair got chatting a few year’s back over a cup of coffee about Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) — which is the most secure part of computing infrastructure. TEEs use tamper proof-hardware to provide strong protection for things like cryptographic keys.
Down here on Earth, there’s always the danger that someone able to get physically close to the hardware could steal keys using sneaky cache timing attacks, or doing tricksy…