Lance Parker has always had an interest in space. He was an early adopter of Bitcoin, having mined it in the early days until it seemed the difficulty had gotten the better of him.
He’s run a number of different companies since graduating college, notably a mobile security company called iTag, which grew to 50,000 customers at its height. ConnectX is a much more ambitious project that intends to have its first launch in 2017. CCN.com spoke to him via Skype recently.
I’ve seen all of the cycles that happen with companies not being able to manage data and solutions that come in to try to solve these issues. We are in an area of tremendous problems around the growth of data and how to secure it.
I had this idea to meld everything that I had been interested in as far as security, computing, and data processing, aviation, and space. And then when I saw the cost of satellites dropping to a point where you have college students launching ten-centimeter cubes called CubeSats routinely. So, there’s a standard being set in the satellite industry. There’s continually more providers coming in that have new techniques to lower costs, and plus there’s much more innovation that will commercialize space.
The overarching project is to leverage the advantages of space to the benefit of the economics, technology and most importantly, security. Later, other applications are possible, says Parker, but for now his company is focusing on financial companies with the FIRST secure distributed satellite database, specifically in the Bitcoin industry. ConnectX aims to bring a new level of security to the Bitcoin and the financial sector. Parker says there are a number of advantages that space has which earth does not, particularly a lower cost of producing energy, zero gravity, and inherent cooling superiority.
The ultimate vision of where our platform could go is to actually do all the data processing on a platform in space.
Also read: Xapo Bitcoin Security Measures Use Satellites, Military Bunkers, and “Deep” Cold Storage
Many readers may think of Xapo when they think of Bitcoin wallets and space, but Parker says that they’re not exactly on the same plane as ConnectX.
It’s interesting that you mention Xapo. To me, their partnership with a satellite company is not that they’re putting Bitcoin wallets in space. I think there is a component to their system where they might be monitoring their security platform through satellites. The way that I understand the Xapo solution is that it’s cold storage in a military bunker in the mountains of Switzerland, so very much a terrestrial solution. They raised $40 million to build it.
To avoid confusion, Parker made a very simple explanation of what ConnectX is doing.
We’re focused on our core competency as the first ever distributed satellite database platform. So when we look at storing things entirely off planet, you get into just the questions you talked about. Availability. Reliability. Redundancy. Accessibility. Data Assurance.
These are all these things that we’ve architected into the system. Our unique way that we deploy these satellites, you would essentially have to blow up the earth and our entire constellation to destroy the data. So we distribute the data in a way that galactic events – nodes smashing into asteroids/other satellites or otherwise becoming inoperable does not affect the integrity or loss of any data in our storage platform. Whether that’s a Bitcoin wallet or financial information that an institution has stored in our system.
Clients who store data on ConnectX’s system will be able to access their data directly via a mobile device. At first, this will be done via mobile web, but Parker says they will have a specialized device that connects directly to the satellites hopefully eliminating the risk of interception that can exist when utilizing a network like the Internet for any form of communication.
Our first deployment will be the Internet as the interface. It will use mobile Internet access to get to our ground station, initially, until we have a full deployment, and then it will be a direct connection eliminating the use of the Internet using an entirely new symbol structure and modulation scheme that changes the economics on the order of magnitudes for each satellite node. It also adds another layer of security, using our symbol structure rather than binary. So we’re introducing speed, capacity, performance, and a level of security that is several layers above and beyond what you have with the current state of the art security.
[…] They would have to know what street corner you’re on, for instance, as you access your secure vault or secure data in our system. So to me, you would have to kidnap the individual and steal their device to get access.
Parker says the company is built for financial institutions, Bitcoin companies and users, but will be adaptable in the event that other currencies eventually replace bitcoins as the primary means of cryptocurrency transfer. He says that a tokenized system similar to the one used by Counterparty assets is a distant possibility. His firm has hired top talent in the fields of aeronautics, satellite communications, space and mathematics in an effort to have a smooth launch. The satellites will cost roughly $1 million each to get into space in the beginning, and set launch dates have yet to be scheduled.
It is a common refrain for Bitcoin traders and enthusiasts to say “to the moon!” It seems that ConnectX is, in a sense, taking this quite literally.