“To the moon!” has become a popular phrase for those with a keen interest in the cryptocurrency space. But with bitcoin and other cryptos settling in at relatively earthly values after a crazy run to end 2017, it may be a decidedly different application of blockchain technology that “moons” first.

In recent months the potential for using blockchain technology to drive a number of applications in outer space has begun to pick up steam. Both private and government-funded research is taking a look at how decentralized systems may improve everything from communications to data analysis when it comes to the great beyond. Here are a few projects that caught our eye:

Spacey Startups

There are several startups that have issued ICOs to fund the development of satellite networks to beam the blockchain around the globe. At a base level, initiatives being driven by companies like Nexus, SpaceChain, and Blockstream are seeking to bypass the internet to provide direct access via satellite to the blockchain for the purposes of carrying out transactions, storing data, app development, or facilitating secure communications. These projects are literally aiming to make decentralization other worldly.

Government Grants

NASA is dipping its toes in the blockchain waters through a grant provided to the University of Akron. The team at Akron is tasked with identifying ways to improve data collection and communication in space. Using the Ethereum network, the team is leveraging the decentralized nature of blockchain with AI and deep learning technologies to reduce the amount of time it takes for remote exploration devices to communicate findings and for those findings to be analyzed.

But that’s not all NASA is hoping to glean from the relationship with the researchers at Akron. They are also looking at a blockchain-based tracking system for space debris to protect United States assets in space.

Good for the Grounded

In the EU, the European Space Agency is looking at blockchain technology to help with the efficiency of operations on the ground. The agencies sees benefits in the use of smart contracts in logistics, payment applications, and the immutable nature of the blockchain when it comes to data storage, voting and more.

New to the Game

There are also a handful of organizations that are new to the space game altogether and looking at blockchain technology to help explore the outer reaches of space alongside sovereign states like the United States and Russia. Among these ambitious explorers is Space Decentral, who according to its whitepaper, is “…a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) whose operational protocol utilizes the blockchain to reinvigorate the push for space exploration with the public in control. Space Decentral will design space missions collaboratively, share research for peer review, crowdsource citizen science efforts, and crowdfund projects that lack national budgets.”

Time Will Tell

As we are still at the dawn of the blockchain age, it will take time to sift out the real players from the pretenders. But one thing is clear, the potential for blockchain technology to change the way we operate in space is truly out of this world.