VC-funded startup Lonestar has announced plans for data centers on the Moon for off-world backups.
Lonestar plans to send lightweight data center equipment to the Moon on the Intuitive Machines IM-2 mission in December 2022, and says it will offer disaster recovery backup service, as well as Edge processing for missions based on the Moon. Partners include orbital logistics firm Skycorp, and open source software firm Canonical.
The company has applied to the ITU for use of spectrum on the Moon.
Data on the Moon
NASA is planning to return to human missions on the Moon from 2025 with its Artemis program, and has already begun planning for "official" IT resources needed by those missions. Lonestar Holdings has commercial plans alongside that.
The company, working with Canonical and Redwire, has already used servers in the International Space Station (ISS), reportedly minting non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for artworks that confer ownership of asteroids.
It now plans to send a software-only "virtual payload" on Intuitive Machines' IM-1 mission, in mid-to-late 2022, and then send hardware to the Moon in the IM-2 missions to the lunar pole after the end of 2022. The hardware in question will be a server and storage module the size of a book, powered by the solar energy generated by the rest of the mission hardware.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, the startup says the Moon is the "ideal location" to serve the "premium segment" of the data storage industry: "Data is the greatest currency created by the human race," says Chris Stott, founder of Lonestar. "We are dependent upon it for nearly everything we do and it is too important to us as a species to store in Earth's ever more fragile biosphere. Earth's largest satellite, our Moon, represents the ideal place to safely store our future."
The actual hardware will be built by space logistics firm Skycorp, and will contain multi-core RISC-V processors.
"Our system is currently operating as the world's first web server on the International Space Station and we look forward to supporting Lonestar in their groundbreaking Lunar application next year," said Dennis Wingo, CEO and founder of Skycorp.
Lonestar was founded by Chris Stott, former CEO of ManSat, Mark Matossian, previously CEO of Iceye US and head of data center hardware manufacturing at Google, Carol Goldstein, former ABN AMRO and Morgan Stanley banker, and Del Smith, former senior space business counsel at Dentons. Its seed funding round was led by Scout Ventures, and also includes Seldor Capital and 2 Future Holding.
Last year, we spoke to Thales Alenia Space about NASA-backed efforts to build a data center on the Moon. If and when the facility is live on the Moon, it will connect to Nokia's Moon-based cellular network. Both will form part of LunaNet, which we profiled in detail in 2021.