Crypto in space: Cryptosat and DoraHacks complete ZK proof experiment on space station

Quick Take

  • The experiment that took place onboard the International Space Station (ISS) is a major step in proving the efficacy of space-bound computational environments, according to Cryptosat.

The first successful experiment to launch a Zero-Knowledge (ZK) proof system in space occurred onboard the International Space Station (ISS) today, in a partnership between crypto-satellite developer Cryptosat and global hackathon organizer DoraHacks.

The experiment performed onboard the ISS demonstrated the capacity of a satellite-based computation environment to perform part of the trusted setup process necessary to utilize a ZK proof protocol, DoraHacks and Cryptosat said. 

The success of the ZK proof experiment is an important step forward in proving the efficacy of space-bound computational environments, according to Cryptosat, which is seeking to launch a constellation of cubesats into orbit and build out its satellite fleet.

For the ISS experiment to be successful, the teams needed to work with infrastructure that accounted for lapses in ground station connectivity. “ISS has a regular radio frequency communication link with [a] ground station,” Cryptosat founder Yonatan Winetraub told The Block. “We used that link for our demonstration.”

The procedure involved transmitting pre-uploaded open source programs via secure link to the ISS to output a string file for the ZK proof-based voting program used by DoraHacks.

Cryptosat already launched two mug-sized satellites, cubesats Crypto1 and Crypto2, the latter of which is undergoing testing, Winetraub said.

A major component of ZK proofs is the deployment of a trusted setup that must be managed by an impartial party, and Cryptosat’s cubesats “essentially provide the perfect environment for those trusted setups,” Cryptosat founder Yan Michalevsky told The Block.

There are still some limitations with the cryptographic scheme behind the ZK proof used in the experiment, Groth16, which requires a new setup for any updates to the voting program. In addition, the experiment only encompassed the second phase of a Groth16 setup.

“There are already multiple use-cases that are ready to move to production, including random beacons, trusted setups, private ballots, etc. However, a larger satellite fleet enables us to tackle new use cases that require even higher and available bandwidth,” Michalevsky said.


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