A startup could hide data centers in the moon's cavernous lava tubes

To provide an insurance policy for human knowledge, or 'Disaster Recovery as a Service'.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of Lonestar's lunar data centers.Lonestar

Startup Lonestar Data Holdings wants to send data centers to the Moon to back up the world's data and provide Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), a press statement reveals.

The news comes shortly after SpaceX's latest rideshare mission, Transporter-5, launched the world's first "crypto satellite", Crypto1, paving the way for secure blockchain cryptography from space.

Lonestar's desire to store data off-world draws comparisons to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is an insurance policy of sorts for humanity aimed at protecting crop diversity. Instead of crops, however, Lonestar aims to protect human knowledge, and instead of the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, it will place that knowledge on the Moon's surface, and possibly even in its lava tubes.

"Data is the greatest currency created by the human race," explained 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."

As the Moon is tidally locked to Earth, one side of it constantly faces Earth, which lends itself to direct line-of-sight communication between machinery on Earth and on the Moon.

'Lunar ark' projects could provide insurance for human knowledge

Last month, Lonestar announced it had signed contracts with NASA-backed aerospace firm Intuitive Machines to launch prototype hardware and software aboard two lunar landers. Intuitive Machines will send Lonestar's first mission, IM-1, to the Moon aboard one of its Nova-C landers near the end of the year. IM-1 will only test software whereas the next mission, IM-2, will send Lonestar's first hardware prototype to the Moon in the form of a one-kilogram storage device containing 16 terabytes of memory. IM-2 is scheduled to launch at some point next year.

If all goes to plan, Lonestar aims to send full-sized prototypes to the Moon for testing. In an interview with The Register, Stott said the company has plans to launch servers capable of storing five petabytes in 2024, and 50 petabytes by 2026. The hope is that they will be able to transfer data to and from the Moon at a rate of 15 Gigabits per second using a series of antennas.

Stott also mentioned to The Register that the data centers could be placed — with the help of robots — in lunar lava tubes to protect them from radiation as well as the Moon's highly fluctuating temperatures. This idea may have been inspired by work from a team of engineers led by University of Arizona researcher Jekan Thanga, who last year proposed a solar-powered "lunar ark" to act as a "modern global insurance policy" for humanity. That team suggested placing cryogenically frozen seed, spore, sperm, and egg samples from 6.7 million Earth species in lunar lava tubes for preservation.

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