Villanova University’s College of Engineering is sending a private ethereum blockchain into space to test the impact of distributed ledger technology (DLT) on inter-satellite communication.

Villanova has partnered with the non-profit Teachers in Space to secure a flight for its blockchain on a Firefly Aerospace rocket scheduled to launch on November 20th. The rocket, taking off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, will carry a Serenity satellite containing Villanova’s private blockchain on a Raspberry Pi. 

Hasshi Sudler, an adjunct professor at Villanova leading the project, said blockchain could potentially help with communication between the large number of satellites and devices already in space.

According to data by the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are nearly 2,800 satellites orbiting Earth, with 1,425 originating from the United States. 

Sudler said inter-satellite communication could reduce the need for launching more devices into space, thereby reducing orbital clutter. 

He said, 

We want to be able to allow satellites to leverage the existing data that current satellites have, but that raises the question of how do you do that transfer and ensure that the transaction has taken place, even ensure that it’s been paid for. And this is where the blockchain plays a unique role.

Sudler continued, saying blockchain networks could reduce operational costs in maintaining ground stations by allowing satellites to “talk” to one another in space. 

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