The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a 60,000 euro ($66,400) grant for blockchain startup SpaceChain to commercially develop its satellite-powered, multi-sig wallet.

According to an announcement published on Sept. 18, the new grant comes via ESA’s “kick-start activities” fund. SpaceChain’s project, if successful, also stands poised to secure additional funding in the future from ESA's Business Applications and Space Solutions.

Multi-sig security in orbit

Since 2017, SpaceChain has been working to build an open-source, blockchain-based satellite network and has already developed its open-source operating system and flight-tested two blockchain nodes in outer space.

The grant will enable the startup to commercially develop its multi-signature satellite wallet. The solution is designed to bolster transaction security by requiring two of three private keys to sign and complete transactions. 

One of the three signatures is provided by a satellite-based node — although, in the case of connectivity failure, two ground-based signatures can be used to complete the transaction.

In a statement, SpaceChain co-founder and CEO Zee Zheng underscored the central importance of improving security for decentralized finance solutions, noting that:

“The fintech industry currently suffers from low levels of security in relation to the storage and transmission of digital currency, preventing it from achieving the same level of professionalism and trust as the traditional banking industry.”

SpaceChain will reportedly collaborate with Deimos Space UK, drawing on its expertise in-flight systems, ground segment systems, space situational awareness and satellite navigation.

One giant leap for mankind

In December 2018, blockchain development firm Blockstream expanded its satellite service to broadcast the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to all of Earth’s major landmasses. 

The idea of launching Bitcoin relay satellites was pioneered by Bitcoin Jeff Garzik's BitSat scheme back in 2014, although the project did not eventually reach fruition.

In February 2018, SpaceChain and Qtum had jointly launched their first space-based blockchain node.