Some say that Bitcoin will eventually be not just a global currency, but a medium of exchange for intergalactic trade. Elon Musk wants to take humanity to Mars, where does that leave Bitcoin?
In a series of tweets, the entrepreneur provided more details about his plans to tackle the final frontier with SpaceX’s Starship Mars.
Musk is nothing if not ambitious, stating that he’d like to see an average of three 387-foot rocket ships take off on the 115-day journey to Mars each day. Each ship would carry 100 passengers, potentially taking 100,000 people to the red planet in just over a year.
Transportation remains the focus of the project for now, but for Musk to realize his ultimate ambition of making humanity a multi-planet species, the settlers will need food, which is expected to come from extraterrestrial farming that compresses the thin Martian atmosphere, and fuel, which will be generated by "propellant farms" relying on a process called "deep cryo-methalox" that uses subsurface ice and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This activity could be the beginning of a Martian economy, which some suggest might be underpinned by cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin nodes have been in the stratosphere since 2017 when Blockstream launched its Blockchain Satellite with the goal of beaming the Bitcoin Blockchain all over the world to make the cryptocurrency accessible to people in countries with poor internet infrastructure.
Making payments in space, however, is likely to be difficult. As cryptocurrency engineer Clark Moody says, transactions are likely to take hours rather than minutes to confirm, leaving a gap that could potentially be filled by second layer solutions like Lightning.
Mining bitcoin on Mars would be even more difficult and has already been deemed impossible by some due to the vast distances involved. As Moody says, the propagation delay means "Martian miners would have a view of the blockchain up to 22 minutes out of date."
At the moment all of this remains purely theoretical, but such ideas might be put to the test soon. SpaceX representatives have said the first operational missions of Starship could come as early as 2021, and the first ships carrying human passengers are planned for 2024.
Musk is notorious for setting and missing aggressive timelines, but it’s increasingly possible that the 2020s will reignite humanity’s quest for space exploration.