Blockchain vs. Database: Which concept can advance processes in the space industry?

July 6, 2022

If you're familiar with Bitcoin, you're also acquainted with Blockchain, a transaction ledger system that some have hailed as the solution to every problem with modern financial transactions. Many individuals who are unfamiliar with Blockchain technology, despite its growing popularity and wide range of potential uses, wonder if there is any meaningful distinction between a Blockchain and a database.

Because of these features, many individuals dismiss Blockchain as "simply another database," arguing that the same objectives might be achieved using more conventional methods. Critics argue that the only thing that sets Blockchain apart from other databases is all the hype around them.

You will soon learn, however, that a Blockchain is more than just a database. The purpose of this piece is to provide a clear contrast between a Blockchain and a database. 

What are the differences between blockchain and database

The primary distinction between a Blockchain and a traditional database is control. Traditional databases are hosted on a single server and cannot be downloaded by all users. To ensure that only authorized users have access to the database, the designated authority verifies the client's identity. This means that the authority to administer and run the database rests with a select few. 

Image by Linforth from Pixabay

Blockchain, on the other hand, relies on participation from all participants to function properly. What this means is that users don't need permission from or monitoring by an overarching administrator in order to exchange data with their peers. All nodes must agree on the content of a block before it can be added to the blockchain. This consensus is what makes the network secure and extremely hard to compromise.

One more important distinction between databases and blockchains is the underlying architecture. Traditional databases, for instance, employ client/server architecture, which has, up to this point, proven effective for organizations of all sizes. The clients play the role of users or consumers while the server takes on the role of a producer in this architecture. Clients can make service requests to a server, which then fulfills those requests.

Image by Manigoda from Pixabay

On the other side, the blockchain relies on the distributed ledger technological architecture. This means that it functions as a decentralized network in which nodes establish connections with one another directly and rely on cryptographic safeguards to ensure the integrity of their communications. Because each peer maintains its own copy of the original chain, they operate as servers (also known as nodes) for the network in validating each block of transactions. Each node is also capable of performing mining operations, or both.

Permissions are what drive databases. The 'users' who are authorized to interact with the database are set by the administrator. Clients attempting to access the database must conform to the administrator-defined ideal user profile. Given that a user must fulfill the appropriate criteria in order to access or add information to the database, the number of users who are granted access to the database is intentionally restricted during its creation.

Image par Gerd Altmann de Pixabay 

Since there are no predetermined criteria for the ideal user on a blockchain, it is more accurately described as a permission-less network. The information stored in the Blockchain can be viewed by anybody at any time. However, the rules governing each type of Blockchain determine the scope of its use and the identities of those who can view and add data to its ledger. To a large extent, Blockchain is available immediately to anybody in the network.

An important disadvantage of databases is that the data they contain is vulnerable to being stolen. One security breach is sometimes all that is needed for hackers to get access to critical information and disrupt business operations unless the entire system is standardized and continuously monitored.

Image by Altmann from Pixabay

Blockchain is far more secure than databases, hence it wins this round. Blockchain eliminates the need for a centralized server by having each node maintain its own copy of the chain and use it to verify new blocks as they are added. By comparing data from several nodes, the system may detect inconsistencies and fix them on its own.

Think of this circumstance as more proof that Blockchain is superior to databases in terms of security. If a peer on the network decides to act maliciously and tamper with network data, the network will automatically correct itself because each node has a copy of the chain. A malicious peer needs control of more than half of the nodes in order to make significant changes to the network, which is nearly hard to do due to the high amount of computational resources needed.

Which one can help advance processes in the space industry?

The answer? Blockchain. Only a few companies, according to Aravind Ravichandran, a PricewaterhouseCoopers researcher on blockchain and space applications, have adopted the initiative on blockchain advancements in space.

He cites ConsenSys Space as having developed a blockchain-based database to track down satellite movements, which is becoming more and more important as businesses like SpaceX launch fleets of satellites and we have to prevent colliding with debris. The U.S. Air Force is the owner of the only other database.

Blockchain has many straightforward and understandable uses in satellite communication, and much of the infrastructure needed to facilitate further space research is still being developed. It might also turn out to be a highly useful application for blockchains. Consider the fact that companies providing broadband (an already sizable industry) rely on satellite launches to ensure their survival. Blockchain's transparency would easily support the ongoing race to develop large satellite constellations, including thousands of tiny satellites to provide high-speed internet, and assist in boosting the economy being developed around these satellites.

Image PIRO4D from Pixabay

Furthermore, the continuous success of space missions, such as those carried out by Elon Musk's SpaceX or Jeff Bezos' crossing of the Karman Line, has encouraged others to enter the battlefield, a field that was exclusively occupied by NASA and the ESA during the first 50 years of space exploration.

Companies may spend millions of dollars on test flights, and financing such an undertaking can seem enormous, making failure truly game over for an enterprise. Tokenization, however, may soon make what seemed unachievable for many dreamers who were previously ignored, possible. Consider how many more businesses may possibly have access to space if these finance issues are solved with new capital sources and arrangements. We may all benefit from the realization of our dreams of exploring and mastering space.

Although blockchain may seem like a futuristic, abstract concept, its capacity to make space accessible to so many of us makes it potentially one of the most important tools in the space race. Supply chain changes can help us achieve previously unachievable goals by changing how we generate revenue and pay for space exploration. Blockchain's potential applications in space may currently be beyond our comprehension because we are only beginning to tap into its potential.

How many of us might travel to space in the future? Although the solution is still a mystery, the concept is intriguing. How many of us might take part in the space economy in the future, even if we never travel to space? Think about it.

We only live once, but if we do it right, once is enough.

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