You’ve definitely heard of NFTs, the new shiny emerging tech that allows people to own digital assets like art, music, and other virtual collectibles on the Internet. But those use cases don’t come close to showcasing the robustness this technology possesses. NFTs, if implemented by companies building the New Space industry, could put humanity decades ahead of schedule for that Mars colony Elon Musk is always talking about.
A NFT, or Non-Fungible Token, is not just the image or the song itself, like many believe. It is a record of authenticity for a specific piece of data that belongs to a single owner. The record is unique, indivisible, and can be transferred to a new owner for a price. Think of an aviation title that comes with a sold private aircraft. Verifying its authenticity, and making sure that its information hasn’t been altered as it changes hands, is much easier when that information has a unique, unchangeable signature. This use case is already out there, provided by Ubitquity, and their first major client AIC Title Service. What makes it possible is the distributed ledger technology (DLT) that NFTs are recorded on.
Distributed ledgers are decentralized and secured by many computers without a central point of failure. Everyone on the network validates the data independently, which eliminates the potential for fraud. The records are immutable, meaning they cannot be erased or changed, only amended with all prior historical information available publicly or within a specific organization. This system benefits collaboration for various space mission initiatives.
Although a NFT is not divisible like Bitcoin, many NFTs can be assigned to one object or asset. Fractional ownership of a private aircraft title (or spacecraft) for example, can attract investors to new space companies. Let’s look at some other potential use cases for Space NFTs.
Tokenization of space assets
It is unlikely that many of us will come to own a piece of land on Mars in the near future. But we can have a share of satellites, asteroids, a spacecraft, and even space debris. Stakeholders can monitor and track their tokenized space items transparently, and build an economy around their transference. Getting paid for removing space debris is every environmental activist’s dream, isn’t it?
Tokenization allows for:
1. Greater control over space assets:
It enhances tracking, processing, verifying, and securing all space behavior; something that is lacking in the current capabilities of industry leaders.
2. Faster transactions:
Greater transaction speeds from ground station to satellite, user to satellite, between ground stations, satellites, and even between astronauts.
3. Automated compliance:
Ensures compliance for contracts, licenses, and mission checklists.
4. Better security:
It eliminates the single-point-access model of space communications and is tamper-proof.
Mining asteroids has become a hot topic as humanity looks for new resource options. As more asteroids are discovered and tracked, they can be assigned NFTs. Those NFTs can then be auctioned off to companies that have the technology to mine in space, giving them the rights to each asteroid. These companies can then crowdfund by creating NFTs for specific resources, and streamline the payout process to investors, executed automatically when the resources reach Earth.
Other Space NFT applications:
1. Satellite life cycle:
NFTs can be used to store, manage, and secure satellite mission data during all launch phases
2. Conversion of data assets:
Mission requirements, feasibility results, mission schedules, design models, flight model information, and testing results can be easily and transparently shared across all departments.
NFTs can be used in basic smart contracts to release and distribute digital funds in an optimized manner according to the roadmap and planning of a launch, or for raising charity funds.
4. Space patents:
NFTs can be used as authentication certificates for private innovation patents.
The space industry has an exclusive opportunity to adopt distributed ledgers, and by extension NFTs, at the beginning of the privatization boom. DLT creates a robust, secure, simple, and transparent system that will benefit new companies, as well as investors, researchers, astronauts, and engineers. It can cut down time for administrative duties and lower the costs of transferring information. This technology allows humanity to focus on innovation and safety as we begin our exploration of the universe.