Blockchain Technology to be used by NASA for Air Traffic Management

Phani Kumar S on February 5, 2019

There was a time when blockchain technology was relatively unheard of. Those who knew about it knew it from the reference of cryptocurrencies and hence were skeptic about its adoption. However, in the past few years, blockchain technology has succeeded in becoming mainstream.

There are a lot of big corporations and banks that are adopting the blockchain network to benefit from its features.

What is blockchain?
Blockchain refers to a digital ledger that has been encrypted to make it incorruptible. The ledger can record all economic transactions. Moreover, you can program it further to record anything of value. This record of transactions is maintained over several computers which are linked in a p2p network. The platform is highly secured. No record can be amended without the knowledge of all users.

NASA’s plan to use blockchain for managing Air Traffic
Already, a lot of companies are using or planning to use blockchain technology to secure transactions. NASA is the latest agency to jump on the bandwagon. The US space agency is planning to improve its technology and security by adding a blockchain network to secure its air traffic services.

It has been reported that NASA will partner with a platform called “Hyperledger Fabric.” This open-source blockchain platform is explicitly designed to carry out enterprise transactions. These transactions are known to mirror the interactions that occur during standard air traffic management.

There are various reasons why NASA is making this move. For starters, the current air traffic management system is not as safe as they would like it to be. Blockchain, due to its encrypted network would help address issues regarding the denial of service, privacy, prevent spoofing and other similar attacks.

The design of a blockchain network is such that it will help in enabling aircraft privacy while keeping anonymity intact. At the same time, the network will provide an effective way of communicating with the operations support department, air traffic services, and other authorities. The difference in common air traffic management and one powered by blockchain is that all of these interactions will be encrypted and hence wouldn’t be prone to be compromised.

The new blockchain framework being adopted by NASA will feature an array of benefits and services. For instance, the technology will provide the space agency with smart contract support, certificate authority, and high bandwidth communication channels. The channels would be effectively used for relaying private information without the fear of breach of data or leaking of information. 

Conclusion
While the move towards blockchain might startle some. This is not the first time that the space agency has shown interest in using blockchain technology. In 2017, a $330,000 grant was awarded to ensure the development of a blockchain-based autonomous system.

Time will tell how fruitful NASA’s efforts are to secure air traffic management via blockchain will be. However, the fact remains that blockchain has now become a reckoning force in an array of industries.

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