Blockchain technology is establishing its roots in all sectors of our economy. There are real benefits to blockchain technology that make it appealing, transferable, and advantageous for many industries.
For those in the crypto community, the fundamental benefits of blockchain technology are well-known talking points; however, for the sake of covering the bases, they include such ideas as enhanced security, greater transparency, instant traceability, increased efficiency and speed, and automation.
At Gokhshtein Media, we wanted to see how far-reaching blockchain technology has come. In fact, we’ve taken our gaze to the skies, literally. To explore the intersection of aerospace and blockchain technology, we sat down with two influential individuals who have extensive experience with and in merging both sectors.
Mo Islam is Partner and Head of Research at Republic Capital. As an investor in Axiom Space and an early investor in SpaceX (among others), Republic Capital focuses on identifying and investing in technology businesses that they believe will shape society for years to come.
Jae Yang is CEO and Founder at Tacen. Noted for their leadership in crypto compliance, Tacen helps entrepreneurs successfully launch tokens, traders trade more securely, and the community stay on top of the most important trends in crypto regulation. Prior to Tacen, Jae spent years in aeronautical engineering developing software tools for flight training equipment, including flight modeling and systems controller drive integration, focusing on experimental dynamics for next-gen aircraft design.
With the aforementioned benefits in mind, we delved into the application, trends, and future outlook of blockchain technology in the aerospace industry. The discussion highlights not only to those benefits, but also calls attention to greater opportunities for flight operational safety, an acceleration of scientific advancements, and an expanded awareness, education, and engagement in human exploration of space.
Let’s now turn to our discussion.
What are the most notable ways blockchain technology is impacting the aerospace industry? What problems is blockchain technology solving or improving?
Benefit #1: Greater Supply Chain Efficiencies & Traceability
Mo shares his perspective:
At the moment, high-value uses of blockchain technology in the space industry fall within more traditional uses such as helping create more supply chain efficiencies.
The aerospace and broader defense industrial base is very fragmented in the United States as a result of post-Cold War policies that led to the creation of thousands of family-owned machine shops.
This has created significant inefficiencies in the way high-precision parts are ordered, manufactured, and delivered to customers.
Blockchain technology cannot solve this problem alone (as it requires a fundamental shift in the manufacturing process), but I can see how certain aspects such as the authentication of parts, contract digitization/automation, and the history of a part or supplier can aid in the advancement.
Expanding on these ideas, Jae provides real-world examples to highlight the benefits of blockchain applications:
Let’s look at an integrated system with an integrator and supplier with respect to transparency and traceability.
Blockchain is really useful in circumstances where you need a neutral ground. Let’s assume that you are delivering some widgets. You need both parties to have the same source of data that they can both trust, rather than the supplier and integrator having their own individual records, or records that are less accessible or reliable. For example, a QA (quality assurance) test report would be available on the blockchain for everyone to see, rather than on a website for download which isn’t nearly as accessible or reliable.
Now, let’s look at the idea of supplier providence.
Blockchain can help track flaws in a product and determine where along the supply chain, earlier or later phases, something went wrong. Let’s assume you are purchasing a part that’s very delicate. The number of times it changes hands and the vibration it has been subjected to matters. Blockchain can track this.
The more complex the supply chain becomes, the harder to tell what went wrong and when. Having all that information written onto the blockchain would be enormously valuable.
Blockchain can’t help reduce fraudulent results of the data, but blockchain can help reduce inaccessibility of data and make the data more readily available to all parties – even tracking where issues occurred along the supply chain.
Benefit #2: Acceleration of Scientific Advancements
Jae shares the challenges experienced and insights gained that point to the blockchain as a solution for accelerating scientific advancements:
For scientists or researchers working in the academic area, there is a replication problem. If you replicate the experiment as they describe it, you may not get the same result for various reasons, or the researcher might not have supplied sufficient details for you to replicate the result.
A lot of the published work doesn’t provide access to the raw data. The raw data is reduced into a graph, making it impossible to verify the data that make up the graph.
Doing a quality check using the raw data is paramount to determine whether the results of the research are reasonable or not. But you oftentimes don’t have access to the raw data in a publicly accessible manner.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had publicly accessible, immutable data of who published a particular collection of raw data from an experiment, when it was published, and where one can get access to the data? While Blockchain is not designed for very large files, you can have something like Filecoin or what’s called an IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), like a distributed file service, where it uses blockchain and indicators to know from which computers to grab files.
Having a freer, open, and accessible environment for original data can speed up the cycle of evolving research, rather than slow down the generation of new ideas. Incorporating blockchain technology into scientific research would be enormously valuable and accelerate scientific advancements quite a bit.
Benefit #3: Safety and Auditability in Aerospace
Jae continues with his examples highlighting the need for an “open” society that allows for the auditability of public records that are immutable, secure, and exist in perpetuity. Jae states that auditability is often limited to the immediate supplier-vendor relationship, and even then, the data isn’t accessible by anyone or might be subjected to security issues such as data being hacked, manipulated, or deleted.
Jae continues with these scenarios:
For example, some parts have a fatigue cycle in aircraft. If you flex it a certain number of times, it will start to show a micro fracture, and it will be dangerous to use that part. The maintenance crew has to know how many cycles it has been loaded. When the aircraft lands, dumping the data onto the blockchain can be really useful, because every maintenance crew would have access to that data.
While the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) does a fantastic job of forensic analysis of aircraft crashes, blockchain technology can provide further accountability and auditability. They maintain a server-client relationship where they put data in some secure location. To access the crash reports, they are stored on a server that could be hacked or manipulated or deleted. As opposed to that, let’s put that public report onto the blockchain – something that points to where it is stored and who published it, so that we all have exactly the same information.
It is in the interest of the public to have that information in perpetuity. It’s not at the whim of the government organizations to take it out of circulation. Once they publish it, it can’t be touched. That immutability will be enormously beneficial in making sure that we have open society that is auditable. It makes the government's job easier too. They don’t have to maintain a server; they can just push it onto the blockchain.
Look for Part 2 of “Blockchain Technology – Taking Our Gaze to the Skies” where Mo Islam, Partner and Head of Research at Republic Capital, covers interesting trends and opportunities, applying blockchain technology to the aerospace industry. Mo covers topics such as space tourism, satellite marketplace, communications, financing, and tokenization.