BitMEX operates Bitcoin node from space

  • BitMEX has installed a satellite system that allows a Bitcoin node to be operated without internet.
  • This allows users to synchronize their Bitcoin nodes and download and verify entire blocks without the need for an Internet connection.

In order to participate in the Bitcoin network and to confirm transactions and mine, an active Internet connection is normally required. However, the Bitcoin BitMEX exchange has developed a new system that uses a satellite system to access the Bitcoin blockchain. No Internet connection is required.

BitMEX tests Bitcoin satellite system of Blockstream

In a new blog post BitMEX presents the “Blockstream Bitcoin Satellite System” as a promising way to download and verify the blockchain of Bitcoin via satellite without the need for an Internet connection. The bandwidth is even sufficient to keep the blockchain up-to-date:

Essentially all one needs to do is install the satellite dish, point it in the right direction, connect it to a laptop running Linux and run some custom Blockstream software, along with a modified version of Bitcoin Core 0.19.1.

As BitMEX describes, the connection is stable and it is possible to connect to the Bitcoin network in remote areas without internet. However, there is an approximately 2-minute delay to the Bitcoin nodes connected to the Internet. At the same time, BitMEX points out that it has only been operating the new system for a few days and current experience is limited:

The client downloads the blocks in chunks, firstly the block header in chunks, followed by the main body of the block, again in chunks. Based on the way the satellite broadcasts the block data, the node does not always download blocks in a continuous order and is able to fill the gaps of missing blocks later on.

This is another reason why BitMEX outlines that the new system has only limited practical use for most users. However, the satellite-based system is perfectly suited for improving the censorship resistance of the Bitcoin network and fending off some forms of “Eclipse attacks”. For the experiment, the Blockstream Satellite Pro Kit was tested with a flat-panel antenna at a price of just under $1,200.


Internet censorship and coronavirus accelerate development

Sending cryptocurrencies can be a challenge, especially in countries with a struggling economy and heavy censorship, such as Venezuela. Criptoalgo has therefore developed an offline payment system, following an official order from President Nicolas Maduro, which can be used parallel to the traditional banking system.

Many well-known cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin or Dash can be sent offline. Another well-known and widely used service is Dash Text. The offline payment service already has more than 8,000 active users. Dash Text can be used to send the cryptocurrency Dash via SMS. Each phone is connected to an active Dash wallet. All transactions are processed in real-time.