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Trust is a fundamental part of block chain protocols and their ability to guarantee highly secure and privacy-friendly configurations that can reduce the presence of intermediaries in transactions. By creating a trusted environment that provides security and transactional integrity, parties can transact in a peer-to-peer format and reliably receive accurate output. Yet, introducing trusted environments depends on having a protocol in place that does not invite interference from malicious parties.

To improve protocol security, decentralization and scalability, satellite developer and operator Cryptosat has partnered with incentive platform and hackathon organizer DoraHacks to experiment with trust setups in space. Carried out in collaboration with Nanoracks Europe, which has been offering commercial space services since 2009, the first experiment of its kind on board the International Space Station (ISS) demonstrated that reliable configurations could be generated in space. In this particular case, the remoteness of space provides greater security and decentralization compared to comparable terrestrial services.

In this case, the experiment produced a Common Reference String (CSR), powering a Zero-Knowledge Evidence responsible for managing user privacy and protecting the Dora Grant DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) voting system. . The general idea behind a Zero-Knowledge proof is that one party does not need to share private information with a second party to prove that a specific output is valid. Instead, this proof is provided cryptographically.

The approved configuration is the phase that generates the common reference string. A configuration of trust is needed to get to the validation stage, in which at least two parties define the standards that Zero-Knowledge proof depends on to work. Without the trust configuration, a malicious user could upload their own CSR to a protocol, thereby invalidating a system’s trust.

In addition to securing Dora Grant DAO’s voting mechanism to thwart any scheme between voting parties and enable user privacy, the experiment also demonstrated how Cryptosat’s low-Earth-orbit nano-satellites could offer reliable configurations for power other protocols and networks.

Prove the prowess of spatial computing

Founded in 2020, Cryptosat strives to bring tamper-proof computing services to multiple markets, including blockchains, applications, protocols and services. Cryptosat, which raised $3 million in its 2022 seed round including from DoraHacks, provides a secure cryptographic computing environment in low Earth orbit via coffee-cup-sized satellites. This solution is made possible by the falling costs of launching and monitoring a satellite amid the emergence of private space contractors like SpaceX.

The physical isolation offered by this approach ensures that the company’s in-orbit hardware is tamper-proof and protected from intrusion by state and non-state actors. Unlike terrestrial hardware, which depends on high security measures and internet connectivity as well as a power source, Cryptosat’s satellite computing is completely self-contained. Between solar power and open communication relays, the system is more defensible and durable by design. Any tampering with the system would require physical proximity to the orbiting satellite.

The recently released results from the trusted configuration experiments follow the successful launch of Cryptosat’s Crypto2 satellite on January 3 aboard the SpaceX Transporter 6 mission. The satellite currently in orbit has 30 times more computing power than its predecessor in orbit, Crypto1, which was launched in May. Together, these satellites help the company achieve its goal of acting as a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) for crypto projects and a service provider for other compute tasks that require a trusted configuration.

This latest round of experimentation follows other tests conducted aboard the International Space Station, including the Drand Protocol’s publicly verifiable random beacon last year and data security applications. Although the configuration of trust accomplished in the last tests on the space station was successful, the scope of its capabilities is limited to one configuration per application, which means that there is no general pattern that can be used in several more general applications.

Now that the first successful experiment is complete, Cryptosat and DoraHacks can move forward with additional testing and experimentation to refine reliable computing techniques for wider use. Potential uses include launching new blockchains or adding functionality to protocols through the in-space trust setup process.

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