NASA astronaut Jessica Meir installed SpaceChain's multisignature blockchain payload housed in a 1U Nanoracks Nanolab on the International Space Station in 2020. Credit: YouTube screenshot

SAN FRANCISCO – Spire Global is working with SpaceChain, a company focused on space applications for blockchain technology, to demonstrate the technology in orbit.

Under the partnership announced Sept. 28, Spire will upload SpaceChain software onto a satellite in Spire’s existing constellation. Later this year, Spire plans to launch a SpaceChain payload on a new satellite.

“Space is the next frontier for businesses, and through Spire’s satellite infrastructure we are taking global collaboration to the ultimate vantage point,” Zee Zheng, SpaceChain co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “This partnership will help us leverage satellite-based computing to remove barriers and create a more open, collaborative and global economy.”

To provide enough compute power for the blockchain demonstration, Spire will rely on Sabertooth, the firm’s parallel processing unit initially designed for machine-learning applications.

“We’re delighted to work alongside SpaceChain and demonstrate innovative ways to leverage outer space,” Theresa Condor, Spire Space Services executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “Space-based computation is already proving its value across countless industries and use cases, and we’re excited to help realize its potential for emerging and decentralized blockchains.”

While blockchain gained prominence as a cryptocurrency tool, organizations also are exploring its benefits for supply chain management, cybersecurity and other tasks.

Through their partnership, Spire and SpaceChain “aim to maximize data security and increase the resiliency of computing operations,” according to a Sept. 28 news release.

Blockchain distributes keys across many nodes in a network. The wide distribution is designed in part to ensure there is no single point where someone could tamper with the network or steal data.

SpaceChain is working with Addvalue Innovation and Alba Orbital to design a decentralized satellite infrastructure, under a 440,000 pound ($596,000) grant awarded in 2020 by Enterprise Singapore and Innovate UK.  Working together, the companies are designing a blockchain payload that would enable people or organizations to task a satellite directly to perform a job like capturing imagery of a specific location.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...