We talked to Zee Zheng, CEO, and Co-founder of SpaceChain, a community-based space platform that combines space and blockchain technologies to build the world’s first open-source blockchain-based satellite network, allowing users to develop and run decentralized applications in space. Here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Zee Zheng: COVID-19 certainly threw challenges at most of us. With the travel restrictions, it has been difficult to spend time with my family. An upside is that there are so many communication tools available that make it easy for us to talk to one another – not only on a personal level. Now, as businesses and employees get used to the work-from-anywhere world, we are collectively one step closer to cross-border collaboration, and I welcome this progress.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SpaceChain.
Zee Zheng: I have always been fascinated by blockchain technology since the beginning and was deeply involved with the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities. The first start-up that I headed was in education, which eventually transitioned into venture capital investment. That gave me the opportunity to invest in companies where the first was space-related.
Along the way, I was fortunate to have met Bitcoin pioneer Jeff Garzik whom I greatly admire, and he later became our co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) after sharing my vision with him. He truly understood the concept and potential of blockchain in transforming the space industry and harnessing space technologies to realize the full promise of blockchain.
Space is the sector that literally reaches for the stars, and there is so much potential that can be uncovered and leveraged for commercial application and use beyond scientific research or discovering possible traces of intelligent life in the vast universe. What lies underneath the Blockchain technology is not only about cryptocurrencies but also an entire innovative infrastructure that enables decentralized networks. I am a firm believer that technology holds the key to democratizing the space industry and unlocking its fullest potential, and it will become the next frontier for business innovation in the 21st century and beyond.
Our vision is to establish SpaceChain as the integrator of space and blockchain technology that will help organizations protect their digital assets against cybercriminals and hackers by minimizing the entry barriers to space via an open-source model. One of our primary missions is to educate space professionals and the blockchain community about each other’s industry strengths, promote collaborations and partnerships and foster a global ecosystem that connects businesses, developers, and consumers for innovation.
How does SpaceChain innovate?
Zee Zheng: SpaceChain is in the business of integrating space and blockchain technologies to uncover boundless opportunities and possibilities for enterprises and users. The integration of technologies and platforms has enabled us to reinforce our longstanding commitment to resolving land-based centralized infrastructure issues that blockchain innovations are challenged with, as well as to accelerate technology advancement, community collaboration, and adoption of space-as-a-service for modern businesses.
With the democratization of the space, sector made possible largely by technology, enterprises, and users can leverage the outer space for business innovation, such as storing and running data and applications and deploying software-defined satellites.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Zee Zheng: Our projects require extensive preparation and overhead costs to get them moving. Unlike other projects, we require both software and hardware, and it is not possible to build space-based applications with inadequate financial capital, human capital, and specialized professionals.
The pandemic has affected some of these moving parts, which caused delays for some of our planned launches and activities and is beyond our control. Instead, over the past year, we ramped up research and development efforts to advance our technology and offerings. This is exemplified by SpaceChain’s announcement on November 30, 2020, for the launch of the beta access for our enhanced ERC-20 SPC token (v2). This advanced SPC token is fully compatible with Ethereum Decentralized Finance (DeFi) products and is capable of automating enforceable agreements in a permissionless system facilitated by smart contracts.
As decentralized finance is increasing popular, existing and potential holders can now access collateral and lending pools in decentralized exchanges, unlocking liquidity and growth opportunities in a fully peer-to-peer environment.
Did you have to make difficult choices, what are the lessons learned, and how did you navigate the crises?
Zee Zheng: While some plans that were in our pipeline had been affected, we capitalized on the opportunity to advance our business. By planning and utilizing our resources, we were able to introduce more services and functionalities to our customers so that we can continue to advance technology and accelerate international collaboration and adoption of space-as-a-service for modern businesses.
Does SpaceChain have many competitors, given that space is a rather nascent industry? How do you plan to stay in the game?
Zee Zheng: Space technologies had historically been inaccessible and highly guarded. It was difficult to utilize existing infrastructures and access knowledge from outside space organizations. In terms of competition, while we do not have direct competitors as we are at the forefront of integrating both space technology and blockchain. One of the biggest challenges in the space industry is that many companies are competing with one another to make proposals to set up their own constellations. At SpaceChain, we champion that instead of each company having its own project. Companies can work together to build a constellation to serve the wider community.
We are gaining momentum as a leading integrator in blockchain and space technologies. In August last year, the first commercial ultra-secure multi-signature transaction was executed on-orbit with SpaceChain’s technology. We welcome more industry players as this model is viable, given that more and more space and innovation companies are coming together with their expertise to tackle challenges that land-based innovations have limitations to solve.
Your final thoughts?
Zee Zheng: I believe that space is the next innovation frontier for businesses, and by integrating blockchain with satellite infrastructure, we can take global collaboration to greater heights. Enterprises can leverage outer space to store data, run applications, deploy satellites with new sensors, and solve problems.
Ultimately, we want to create a new space-blockchain economy that connects millions of businesses, developers, and consumers and enables the mass adoption of scalable technology.
SpaceChain will continue to introduce more services and functionalities to customers that address land-based centralized infrastructure concerns while accelerating technology advancement, international collaboration, and adoption of space-as-a-service for modern businesses.
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