Buy a piece of the moon: The lighter side of Blockchain

23 July, 2019

Blockchain is a pretty heavy topic, both technologically and economically. Most discussions about blockchain are laden with technical language and lots of computer coding the average person doesn't understand. However, every once in a while, we are privy to the lighter side of blockchain. A case in point is the launch of a new startup purporting to sell pieces of the moon represented as tokens on a blockchain. Welcome to Diana.

Diana is a brand-new blockchain start-up that has taken it upon itself to create a lunar registry encapsulated in a distributed ledger. The company behind the registry intends to sell 'pieces of the moon' that would be represented by 3-word phrases in the blockchain as well as two digital tokens known as 'dia' and 'mond'.

In addition to selling theoretical pieces of the moon, Diana hopes to capitalize on an eventual lunar economy by creating a decentralized autonomous organization ready to step in should making money off the moon ever become possible. Anyone wishing to get in on the ground floor should probably consider purchasing tokens right away.

Nobody owns the moon

All of this may appear to be a joke on the surface, but the people behind Diana are quite serious. Still, you might be asking how they could possibly get away with a plan to sell pieces of the moon. It is theoretically possible because nobody owns the moon - at least from a human perspective.

The UN Outer Space Treaty specifically states the following in Article II:

"Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."

The treaty seems to preclude Diana's ownership and subsequent ability to sell pieces of the moon. However, company management maintains that the treaty only applies to national governments. It says nothing about individuals or companies, a technicality they believe keeps them in the clear. Whether or not the UN agrees is unknown.

Diana executives say that what they are doing is no different than what a number of other companies and individual nations are preparing to do. They cite Blue Origin, a company founded by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, gearing up to begin exploration of the lunar surface. Company officials no doubt believe that Blue Origin will attempt to capitalize on the moon in the same way Amazon has capitalized on the Earth.

Ownership on the Blockchain

As long as you are going to embrace a business model focused on selling pieces of the lunar surface, you might as well adopt technology capable of maintaining proper ownership records. After all, filing title paperwork with a County Clerk isn't going to cut it. There are no government bodies anywhere in the world capable of keeping accurate records of such purchases. It is not a problem for blockchain.

As you might already know, one of the central tenants of blockchain technology is the immutability of the distributed ledger. In other words, once a record has been entered and verified, it can no longer be modified in any way. It becomes permanent. The only way to overcome 'mistakes' is to reverse them with a new and separate entry.

Think of it in terms of a Bitcoin purchase. If you were to purchase a brand-new pair of shoes with BTC, Bitcoin's distributed ledger would record the transaction created when you pushed coins from your wallet to the recipient's. That record becomes permanent once all of the nodes on the Bitcoin network verify and confirm the transaction. It can never be erased from the ledger. It can never be modified, either.

The same is true with the Diana distributed ledger. Once the ledger records you as the owner of a particular area of lunar real estate, it is a done deal. That record will forever be a permanent part of the blockchain.

Diana's two tokens

Diana has established two tokens to fuel its project. The first token, dia, is used to represent ownership of a piece of lunar real estate. You make your purchase and receive dia in return. The other token is intended to be used for conducting transactions across the network. It is called mond. Note that if you put the two together you get 'diamond'.

This is no accident. Diana's creators want lunar owners to use the second token as a way of giving the project utility. Why? Because if Diana's only purpose is to sell hypothetical pieces of lunar real estate, its business model will not last long. Even if management could get away with such a thing, there would be nothing left for the company to do once all of its lots were sold.

Diana management wants and expects people to utilize the mond token after purchasing dia. In order to increase the value of both tokens, they have built in automatic increases that will cause the price of registration to go up commensurate with the number of registrations already secured. As time goes on, buying your piece of the moon will cost more.

They have also established a baseline at which 50% of all tokens will be made publicly available. Just 2% will be reserved for Diana founders and developers. The remaining 48% will remain in reserve for future use.

Eventual lunar development

The good people behind Diana are undoubtedly relying on the novelty of lunar sales to fuel their project. They are expecting people will want to register just to say they own a piece of the moon, in the same way people pay to have stars named after them. But rest assured that the concept is not mere novelty to company executives. They have every intention of being part of what they believe will be future lunar development.

So what is fueling this sudden desire to capitalize on the moon by putting it on a blockchain ledger? Well, a couple of things. At the top the list is the fact that 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic lunar landing on July 20, 1969.

Though numerous additional moon landings followed, those countries pursuing space exploration have not achieved anything quite as remarkable ever since. There is a growing hunger among international space programs to get back into a new space race.

That has countries like China looking for ways to capitalize on the moon. But that's not all. The second reason can be found in private enterprises like Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX. Both companies have every intention of developing their own for-profit space programs.

As previously mentioned, Blue Origin is aggressively pursuing a plan to somehow capitalize on the moon. Whether that means developing the moon with mining, manufacturing, housing, etc. remains to be seen. But there's little doubt that the company sees profit on the lunar surface. Meanwhile, SpaceX is obsessed with the idea of colonizing Mars.

The digital Blockchain economy

Capitalizing on the moon as man's next big economic achievement shouldn't surprise anyone. Perhaps it has taken a bit longer than some expected, but it was only a matter of time before companies would take the successes of 50 years ago and turn them into a means of making money.

It also should not surprise anyone that blockchain technology will be a big part of future space exploration and development. Blockchain is on the cutting edge of technology in so many ways that it seems impossible to imagine future space exploration being conducted without it. And of course, the digital blockchain economy here on earth is bound to influence future economics throughout the galaxy. At least that is the theory.

There are some who believe humanity really has no limits. They believe that the moon will be under considerable development within the next decade or so. The next step is to move out to other satellites or planets. Blockchain will be key to making all of this work from an economic standpoint. That's what Diana is focusing on.

The Diana team is not stopping at selling pieces of the moon in their blockchain registry. They also intend to establish the Together Moon Foundation at some point in the future. They intend to create an international and space expert defense team that would lead the way in developing a business model for on the moon.

Buy your piece of the moon

Despite Diana's long-term plans for the lunar surface, the project is initially quite lighthearted from the consumer perspective. In short, you can buy your piece of the moon and have the record of your ownership entered into Diana's registry. You will get some digital tokens as proof of ownership. Then you'll have a story to tell your grandkids.

If nothing else, Diana's plans make it clear that blockchain is not just for cryptocurrency. It is technology that can be used for all sorts of applications requiring ledger style bookkeeping. For some people that means running a business that accepts Bitcoin payments. For others, blockchain is a way of improving logistics. For the good people at Diana, it is the impetus for developing the moon. If everything works out, Diana could prove to be a giant leap for blockchain.