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What happens to Bitcoin when billionaires build cryptocurrency miners on the Moon?

Outer space may one day belong to the HODLers

What happens to Bitcoin when billionaires build cryptocurrency miners on the Moon?
Tristan Greene
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Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him

By the end of 2021, if everything goes according to plan, the richest man in the world will take a pleasure cruise to outer space on his personal spacecraft and both Bitcoin and Dogecoin will literally go to the Moon.

Space exploration and exploitation have traditionally been nationalist endeavors. But the rise of the 12-digit billionaire has suddenly made outer space look like open territory.

The players

Jeff Bezos is stepping down from his position as the CEO of Amazon after 25 years ahead of his imminent launch into space aboard one of his own Blue Origin spaceships.

While it’s easy to imagine the long-time leader retiring to live out a childhood fantasy, there’s nothing in Bezos’ history as an incredibly ambitious person and businessman to indicate his he’ll just blast off into the sunset to live a life of quiet leisure.

Simply put, Bezos’ interest in the space sector likely won’t end with offering consumer thrill rides. While it’s impossible to know where the soon-to-be-former CEO might take his ambition, it’s likely Amazon and/or Blue Origin is already looking for ways to exploit the space sector for profit.

But, obviously, Bezos isn’t the only private citizen with a spaceship company. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has spent the last decade becoming the belle of NASA’s ball and he’s already all-in on the idea of sending humans to Mars.

And we can’t forget Richard Branson. He may only be worth a paltry $5 billion (lol), but his Virgin Galactic company’s been banking on making some money in space tourism for a long time. Let’s also not forget that Virgin’s dabbled in everything from railroad technology to record labels.

And the list goes on. Anyone with a few billion dollars has business options and opportunities that extend beyond our planet’s surface.

Space for profit

In the past, we’ve discussed the idea of mining space asteroids for profit. Some experts believe there are unimaginable fortunes floating around in space in the form of resource-rich asteroids.

In fact, you can even get a degree in asteroid mining. And even Goldman Sachs has considered getting in on the action.

But, at the end of the day, we still have to figure out where these resources are, build machines capable of extracting them, and get them safely to somewhere they can be useful. Right now, there’s not much value in investing in asteroid mining futures because the technology either doesn’t exist or isn’t ready yet.

However, there’s more than one kind of mining you can do in space.

Enter cryptocurrency and the future

Elon Musk recently got involved in a friendly space race, but this time it has nothing to do with competition over rockets or government contracts. He’s racing against BitMEX, a cryptocurrency exchange and derivative platform, to see who can get a cryptocurrency on the Moon first.

If you’re curious about how that works, here’s a snippet from BitMEX’s official announcement:

BitMEX will mint a one-of-a-kind physical bitcoin, similar to the Casascius coins of 2013, which will be delivered to the Moon by Astrobotic.

The coin will hold one bitcoin at an address to be publicly released, underneath a tamper-evident hologram covering. The coin will proudly display the BitMEX name, the mission name, the date it was minted and the bitcoin price at the time of minting.

According to BitMEX, this isn’t just a ceremonial or token delivery. The coin itself is a hardware wallet containing an actual Bitcoin, so its value will change with the value of the BTC here on Earth.

In other words, BitMEX is sending a literal treasure to the Moon for anyone brave (or rich) enough to retrieve it.

Per the company’s blog post:

A moon surface background with text superimposed, quote below
Credit: BitMEX

Come and Get It. When the physical coin lands, it will remain on the Moon until anyone deems it worthy of retrieval. Decades from now, what will it be worth?

It’s a great question. Some experts have predicted a single bitcoin will one day be worth $100K, $1M, or even more. But an even better question is this: What’s the end game for cryptocurrency in space?

Billionaires want to be trillionaires

Back in 1999 Wired ran a feature about the imminent rise of the world’s first trillionaire. At the time, everyone assumed the richest man in the world, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, would be the first trillionaire by a long shot.

Here’s a quote from that article:

The value of Bill’s Microsoft stake has grown from $233.9 million at the time of Microsoft’s 1986 IPO to $72.2 billion as of June 15, 1999 (disregarding stock sales). At this rate – 58.2 percent a year – he will become a trillionaire in March 2005, at age 49, and his Microsoft holdings will be valued at $1 quadrillion in March 2020, when he is 64.

Of course, we still haven’t seen a trillionaire in modern history. As of the time of this writing, the richest person in the world is France’s Bernard Arnault, whose $193.6 billion empire edges out Jeff Bezos’ $189 billion.

At some point, if Bezos wants to pull away with it or Elon Musk wants to close the widening gap between his $151.4 billion and a first place finish, the world’s richest people are going to have to do more than squeeze terrestrial markets for every last drop of profit.

That’s why many experts view Elon Musk’s heavy involvement in cryptocurrency as the potential difference maker. On any given day the Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink founder’s total worth can skyrocket or plummet by tens of billions of dollars based on how his cryptocurrency holdings are performing.

When you consider that market movements can be directly tied to Musk’s social media statements, the power proposition for billionaires holding cryptocurrency is unbridled.

Simply put: Elon Musk has more control over the so-called “volatile” world of cryptocurrency than most.

Putting a cryptocurrency in space, much like firing a Tesla off into the galaxy, is a PR move meant to generate interest in the burgeoning cryptomarket. But that’s not the only purpose they serve. These acts remind us that people like Musk and Bezos can do anything they want. If they want to put a coin on the Moon, they have the means to do it.

And, for example, if Musk or Bezos suddenly wanted to solve the biggest problems with cryptocurrency mining – power consumption, carbon footprint, developing powerful-enough hardware – they’re in a unique position to do so.

In space, no one can hear you mine

Arguably, one of the biggest things stopping an apex whale like Elon Musk from spending a fair portion of his billions on cryptomining centers is the fact that such an operation would almost certainly draw universal condemnation for its potential effect on the global climate crisis.

But the Moon’s atmosphere isn’t necessarily as fragile as the Earth’s.

Hypothetically speaking, there’s nothing to stop a billionaire from building a facility on the Moon to mine cryptocurrency. They would, of course, need to be able to build their own batteries, have experience with artificial intelligence and supercomputers, and already have their own satellite network set up in space – all boxes Elon Musk can tick today.

And, in the near-future, as we perfect deep space transmission technology, what’s to stop a billionaire from putting a supercomputer on a satellite and sending it somewhere in deep space to mine cryptocurrency 24/7 at near absolute-zero temperatures?

All of this is conjecture, but the writing is on the wall. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts fear what the experts are consistently warning: regulation is coming.

Eventually, it’s possible cryptocurrency mining could become regulated with harsh policies designed to keep mining operations from further damaging the environment. This could seriously hinder the market.

If humanity walks away from terrestrial mining to save the planet, we’ll be leaving unfathomable amounts of money on table. Billionaires don’t become billionaires by doing that.

The only logical path forward, barring some unknown new green mining technology, may be moving the cryptocurrency industry to space.

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