As governments plan their next lunar expeditions and commercial space travel gets ready for takeoff, a group of lawyers, scientists and other experts is planning to use blockchain to treat the moon as an extraterrestrial heritage site.

For All Moonkind, a nonprofit organization that seeks to protect and preserve the history of human achievements in outer space, said Tuesday it will begin mapping the moon using cryptographic tools through a partnership with Todaq, a decentralized applications solution provider that uses the TODA Protcol to scale blockchains more efficiently. The result will be a register of locations on the moon that should be preserved as cultural heritage sites, such as Apollo 11’s Tranquility Base where the first human set foot on the moon.

According to Michelle Hanlon, a lawyer and co-founder of For All Moonkind, the immutability of blockchain will offer a way for space agencies and private spacecraft firms to be aware of artifacts on the moon before they land on them or affect them in some way. It will also tell a story that captures important moments in history and memorializes the work of scientists, she said.

Projects like For All Moonkind’s ledger might also make the public at large better aware of what blockchain is and how it works.

“We’ve left a lot of stuff on the moon,” said Hanlon, who announced the project at a conference called AiDecentralized in Toronto. The more than 80 human artifacts include Luna 2, the first human object to reach another celestial body, an olive branch as well as a mini-museum of paintings by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. “You’d think they’d be well-cataloged.”

Earthlings, We Have a Problem

Part of the problem is that lunar expeditions are involving a range of space agencies (and soon, perhaps, private spacecraft) that have no stringent rules around how sites should be preserved and protected, if at all. Blockchain, Hanlon said, could bring “trust and unity” to these missions by taking the heritage of sites into consideration from the outset.

“We understand the need for preservation very well here on Earth,” she said, pointing to the way UNESCO and other organizations worked to protect Nubian heritage sites during the Aswan High Dam Project on the border between Egypt and Sudan. “Our history is vital to our sustainability . . . [our heritage sites] can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves.”

Moonshot Thinking
 The long-term idea is that by disseminating information about what’s in the ledger, the project will not only excite students and space enthusiasts but spur recognition for lunar sites under the World Heritage Convention, Hanlon said.

Projects like For All Moonkind’s ledger might also make the public at large better aware of what blockchain is and how it works. Todaq co-founder Toufi Saliba, who also hosted the AiDecentralized conference, suggested in his opening remarks that there are still large technical gaps among those making decisions about blockchain and artificial intelligence.

“I encourage people studying blockchain to look past the first 10 pages of what you’ll see on Google,” he said, adding, “Ninety-seven percent of it isn’t accurate.”

Todaq will be donating its time and resources to work on the moon-mapping project, which will be dubbed the For All Moonkind Moon Register Powered by the TODA Protocol.

“There’s no consensus yet about what’s on the moon,” Hanlon said. “This will be a giant leap for blockchain.”

Shane Schick
Shane Schick is veteran journalist who covers lifestyle, business and technology issues. He is the editor-in-chief of the Canada-based B2B News Network and Chair of the 2018 Blockchain Summit in Canada.