A crypto mining company has sent a balloon into the stratosphere to mine bitcoin on the edge of space, reaching over 35,000 meters in altitude. The company also shared the results of its survey on what the price of bitcoin would be this year.
Miner One launched a “high-altitude balloon with bitcoin mining equipment” on Monday which it calls “Space Miner One (SMO).” The organization describes itself as neither a pool nor a cloud, but “a community of people who want to mine cryptocurrency profitability.” The group is “so bullish on bitcoin” that it hopes this PR stunt will be seen as “a symbol that the price of bitcoin will go to 35,000 and beyond.”
The large latex balloon filled with helium has a parachute attached. It carries ASIC mining equipment, including two ASIC USB Block Erupters, connected to “a Raspberry Pi 3 microcomputer, a battery, and a satellite phone” which “are all placed inside the carbon fibre SMO capsule along with a souvenir metal ‘bitcoin’ for one lucky winner of the Miner One Sweepstakes,” the group detailed.
It also carries “navigation and tracking equipment with an independent power supply, thermoinsulation and a thermoregulator protecting it from temperature extremes,” Miner One explained and described the launch sequence as:
“Space Miner One passes through the troposphere; the ASIC is activated and linked via satellite transmitter to the Internet. As Space Miner One enters the stratosphere, falling air pressure causes the balloon to expand from 2.2 m to 10+ m in diameter, large enough to be seen from the ground.”
Prior to descending, “The Balloon is detonated, the parachute deployed, and Space Miner One begins its journey back to Earth,” the group explained, adding that the duration of the trip was roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes.
As Space X and other spaceflight companies bring down the price of launching commercial satellites into space, the prospect of mining bitcoin from above the atmosphere grows more appealing to venture capitalists and mining companies.
The abundant solar energy and freezing temperatures in space both offer major benefits to the mining process that may become commonly used one day. The third benefit of space mining, as Bitcoin developer Peter Todd pointed out in August of last year, is that it may be the only economically relevant way to use energy generated in orbit.
While Space Miner One’s mission did not include any solar panels, it could take advantage of the low temperatures in the stratosphere and communicate with the ground using the satellite phone during the mining process. Given the 2.5-hour mission time and the Block Erupter mining hashrate of only 330 Mh/s, Space Miner One was unlikely to have generated a whole satoshi. However, the mission could still be seen as a proof of concept for mining bitcoins in space.
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