Lonestar Data Holdings, a Cloud computing startup, raised $5 million in seed funding to set up lunar data centers. The company aims to build a number of data centers on the moon and establish a viable platform for data storage and edge processing on the lunar surface.
“Data is the greatest currency created by mankind; we depend on it for almost everything we do, and it’s too important for us as a species to store away in Earth’s increasingly fragile biosphere. Earth’s largest satellite, our moon, is the ideal place to keep our future safe.” said Chris Stott, founder of Lonestar, in an April 2022 opinion.
The increasing number of data centers on the planet endangers the environment and increases energy use and digital pollution. In addition to offering a more secure way to store the data, building data centers on the moon could solve this issue.
In December 2021, Lonestar successfully conducted a test of its data center onboard the International Space Station. The company is now poised to bring a small data center box to the lunar surface later this year as part of Intuitive Machines’ second lunar mission, IM-2 (the company’s first mission, IM-1, is expected to launch in June).
Intuitive Machines receives financing from NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program to conduct research projects on the moon as part of the space agency’s Artemis program.
The lunar data centers will initially be geared towards remote data storage and disaster recovery, allowing businesses to back up their data and store it on the moon. Additionally, the data centers could assist with both commercial and private ventures into the lunar environment.
The miniature data center weighs about 1 kilogram and has a capacity of 16 terabytes, Stott said SpaceNews. He said the first data center will draw power and communications from the lander, but those that would follow (anticipating its success) are standalone data centers that the company plans to deploy on the lunar surface by 2026. The test is only intended to last for the duration of the IM-2 mission, which is expected to last about 11 to 14 days, a spokesman for Intuitive Machines told SpaceNews.
“We believe expanding the world economy to the moon, which happens to be Earth’s most stable satellite, is the next white space in the new space economy; data security and storage will be a necessary ingredient to lead the new generation of lunar exploration.” said Brad Harrison, founder and managing partner of Scout Ventures, which led the recent funding round.
Aside from building data centers on the moon, there have been several proposals for building data centers in space, including in orbit around Earth. In August 2022, OrbitsEdge, a satellite colocation company, teamed up with Hybrid rocket startup Vaya Space as they plan to operate small data centers in space.
Moreover, some companies have also launched Launched Edge Computing Module in Orbit; AICRAFT, an Adelaide-based edge computing developer, launched its edge computing module named Pulsar to set a record for big data processing in orbit.
Additionally, Vaya Space, C8 Secure a Continent 8, Orbits Edge, and Space Prep formed an In-Space Computing Alliance (ISCA) to provide affordable and secure data processing capabilities at the edge of space.
The concept of a data center outside of Earth is not new and has been explored by various organizations and researchers. One of the main reasons for building a data center in space is the ability to leverage the unique environment and conditions in space that can help improve the performance and efficiency of the data center.