Minerva Space Technologies is looking for partners to join its ambitious campaign to improve space domain awareness.
After securing a $150 million credit facility, Minerva intends to create an ecosystem where information on space objects can be collected, compared and verified with non-fungible, meaning unique, digital tokens.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are all the rage in the digital art world, where individuals buy and sell music videos and cartoons with cryptocurrency.
In this case, however, unique tokens would be associated not with digital art but with observations of orbiting spacecraft and debris acquired by ground-based and space-based sensors, including sensors Minerva plans to launch.
Unique tokens are important because they can be encrypted and stored on a blockchain along with their entire history, making them extremely difficult to alter.
“We want to provide a service that helps validate and authenticate the data,” said Nelson Santini, Minerva co-founder and CEO. “If my operations in space have their foundation on data that’s incomplete, inaccurate or corrupt, then I have a problem.”
Minerva plans to correlate visual observations with radar and telemetry from public and private sources to provide a clear picture of the space domain.
“We’re looking for the opportunities to partner with companies that want to execute the mission,” Santini said.
As additional data moves into the ecosystem, the dataset’s quality and fidelity will improve. With enough data, Minerva will be able to harness AI algorithms to analyze current events, track satellite maneuvers, anticipate events and make recommendations, Santini said.
Santini founded Minerva with Michael Bouchard, a serial entrepreneur who previously served as chief scientist for communications and cybersecurity firm DataPath Inc. and founded Secure Axxess Solutions, an advanced technology and secure communications specialist.
“As founder and chief scientist at SecureAxxess, investing in Minerva Space Technologies is a natural next step in building out a greater technology ecosystem,” Bouchard said by email.
Bouchard cites three goals for the new company.
“We want to be first to market in space with our blockchain and NFT technologies to help redefine the way” space domain awareness and command and control “come together in space,” Bouchard said.
In addition, Minerva plans to operate satellites and sensors in geostationary and cislunar space. Finally, the company seeks to harness artificial intelligence and augmented reality “to help evolve and improve the user’s experience and take it to the next level,” Bouchard said.
A branch of Minerva already is “working on building payloads and manifesting rockets and satellites into space,” Santini said. “We want to make sure that by the time we put those assets in orbit that we have a distribution network that is ready.”
Minerva obtained a $150 million credit facility that can be expanded to $500 million once the firm meets key milestones, Santini said.
This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of SpaceNews magazine.