Shaina Pearl: Please explain Copernic Space’s mission and what inspired you to pursue this venture?
Grant Blaisdell: Copernic Space is inspired by my grandfather, who helped build the astronaut program in Poland. He was a progressive mind, and he had some early writings about democratizing space. I have a background in digital media, distribution, and monetization platforms. So, I have a big passion from the creator end as well as system end of distributing and monetizing content. My goal was to build platforms that, unlike today’s provide transparent, trusted, and automated revenue for artists and creators. That is how I got into blockchain tech and applying tokenization to those systems as a solution. I eventually built Confirm, one of the global leaders when it comes to analytics for crypto. So, it all came together, and our experiences in the space economy, we realized, have specific needs and issues that an application we are building can help alleviate. It is a very old-school segmented market; getting rights to send something to space is a multi-month process. It is overly complex and archaic. Many entrepreneurs in these companies have very limited access to a general commercial market to sell their space assets, but they also have extremely limited access to financing and liquidity. Whether you are a mature or early-stage venture, companies face trouble with liquidity generation issues. Most importantly, the retail market and the average person have no avenue to easily access and participate in the space economy. Based on our experience, and my eight years in the crypto space, we are building a platform that enables commercial and retail markets access to space assets and space investment opportunities. This fuels and scales the commercialization and financing of going into space and creating the digital commercial infrastructure for the new space economy. At the end of the day, the new space economy will be, objectively, the only limitless economy in human history. It will probably be the largest market and economy in human history. We know that it is vitally essential for the average person to have access and ownership in the space market. It is one thing to send something up into space and another thing to own an asset in space or a fraction of it; that is where the real value is. In our upcoming launch, we are doing two things to begin with, creating the digital commercial standard for space and creating a space asset market that allows the retail and commercial market to buy, sell, and trade ownership of assets in space. There is a very humanist side to the venture; we want to empower the average person and have them fuel solutions that will provide further benefits for people and animals on earth.
SP: What constitutes a “space asset?”
GB: For us, it is tokenized ownership of, for example, payload space on a rocket, cargo going to the moon, satellite data, or related licenses. All of these are put in a tokenized format that allows both for ownership and access. For example, with satellite data, we apply NFT technology so you can own a license or buy ownership of X amount of photos from the satellite and access the interface to get those photos. Our venture provides a genuine function. This is a marketplace that doesn’t have to solely be transactional; it can provide functionality to the assets that are being acquired and traded. Our motivation is to create that market for space assets in the first place. Another hypothetical space asset is mining rights on the moon… the possibilities are endless, so I try not to be too strict with the definition. To summarize, a space asset is tokenized ownership or rights to access some product, physical space, service, or data in space or from the space economy.
SP: Does Copernic Space utilize fractional ownership?
GB: Yes, we include fractional ownership. That is a big thing our platform does compared to other NFT driven marketplaces. Most people are not going to buy an entire satellite, but they could buy a thousandth of one. You will see in the future more companies that will presell fractional ownership of satellites that they developed or will develop on the retail market. The cool thing about space is that its legality and regulation are almost nonexistent at a certain point. It is not very well defined; it is perfect for the implementation of blockchain at a foundational level.
SP: I’ll be frank, I do not know much about space policy, so I am wondering, is there a kind of “elite” group of companies that control current space assets? Or is Copernic Space venturing into uncharted territory?
GB: Although there is a collection of incumbents and major companies such as Northrop Grumman or even SpaceX, it is pretty much uncharted territory. There are regulations around space, like launch regulations, FAA stuff, and the UN regulations surrounding the Moon. Still, China and the U.S. are pushing boundaries on those regulations all the time. You will see that the long-term space regulations applied to what we’re doing will probably relate to financial or security-type aspects of space. Regulations are usually far behind what the innovators are doing, so we will see how all that stuff develops.
SP: What do you think will be the greatest challenge Copernic Space will experience in the future?
GB: Honestly, the biggest one will be getting people to understand ownership and the educational curve related to what we’re doing. From a retail end we focus on converting the crypto market into the space asset market we’re creating; individuals involved in the crypto market understand ownership of digital assets that might be abstract to the typical person. If you observe the NFT market right now, most of it is completely insane, and people stand behind it. Sometimes, it is easier for people to understand owning a fake rover on a fake moon in a metaverse than it is for them to understand owning a piece of a real rover on the real Moon.
SP: Going back to what you said about using blockchain and bitcoin, can you elaborate a little more about why that is so important in the venture?
GB: For example, the space economy operates internally. It is decentralized; people only really see NASA and Musk, etc., but thousands of space companies exist. It is a very segmented market. They deal with particular types of assets. What NFTs have shown is that someone can create intellectual property in digital format. They need to package their intellectual property specifically for commercialization and distribution in the digital economy. This includes simultaneously embedding their rights within the digital property and, if any money is being generated off it, it goes back to the creator. It does these functions according to code.
I can apply blockchain technology and cryptocurrency to infinite space ventures. For example, I have a rover company with X space on my rover to sell commercially. Where can I host that? I can host that on my site. Then people come in and put in requests, and I process those requests. It is a manual process that goes back and forth for months. At the end of the day, all they have are the rights to use that service according to a contract. They are only going to make money from that singular transaction.
When it comes to applying NFTs to that, I can place that on a marketplace with a much more concentrated amount of users and have all my rights embedded within that offer and NFT. When somebody buys it, they get the rights embedded in it. Then they can resell that NFT. So now that rover company, instead of going through a very archaic manual process of selling something for a million dollars, can do that digitally, much faster, much more efficiently, to a broader market. In turn, the first buyer can sell it for a million dollars and the original asset creator, in this case a space company, gets a percentage of every secondary sale. As a result, they just generated a whole new revenue paradigm for themselves.
Another reason we use blockchain is its ability to “assetize” it and launch it in the retail market. Because we are dealing with space, U.S. space companies can’t sell to Chinese nationals or companies. They wouldn’t be able to do this on OpenSea because Chinese nationals could come in and buy it, so we must implement certain measures and features within our platform that limit that and force the asset to be sold to approved buyers. For now, NFTs are part of the sales and part of the process; you are buying an NFT that gives you ownership.
I was too young for the original Web or the internet boom, and people thought Amazon was crazy. They didn’t get it; why would I buy books on the internet? Everything is abstract until it’s not, and you will see the parallels of that stuff with space. Like that era, most of the projects in crypto you are seeing will not last very long because they lack purpose. But you will see it become an integral part of everything we do whether we know it and understand it or not. The initial web revolution changed our access to data, how we move data, and our user interface of life. Blockchain and web3 change how we access and move value and change the operating system behind the scenes. Blockchain isn’t supposed to be this front-facing consumer thing; it should be a systematic solution to change how the system moves and works.
SP: What are your long-term plans?
GB: We hope to empower and improve the lives of people on earth by skyrocketing the development of space applications through enabling the wider commercial and retails market to participate and provide more fuel. To begin with, we’re creating the first space asset and digital commercialization standard for space. This deals with the payload space on Lunar Outposts MAPP Rover landing on the Moon in December. The initial part of the sale has a minimum volume to buy because you have to physically send something on the rover to the Moon. We want to engage the broader commercial market, such as fashion brands or gaming companies, and show them how easy it is to send things to space. the wider retail market that space is really accessible, so we are not going after other space companies to go after the private sale. What purchasers get when they buy those rights is their NFT. When the public sale launches, the average person can come in and buy a gram of the payload and then have ownership of real space on a rover that’s going to be on the moon. That is a tradeable and fractionalized asset. They can sell that gram to someone else. The public sale is the most important one to us because it democratizes ownership of space and will for the first time allow the average person to have economic participation and ownership in space.
Reprinted courtesy of Arts Management Magazine