United States: Update on Lonestar's Moon-based backup data center plans

May 24, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Lonestar, the startup that emerged from stealth with big space plans, has announced that its intentions to use lava tubes to shield from the extreme conditions of the lunar surface, which will assist it in its plans to back up the world's data on the Moon. The company cited the Earth's instability, both from the perspective of climate change consequences and other issues such as war, and cyber attacks, as the reasons for targeting a location off-earth to store our data. 

Speaking about the need to safeguard Earth's data, Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register, said: "If we don't do this, what will happen to our data on Earth? The seed bank flooded due to effects of climate change. It's also susceptible to other forms of destruction like war or cyber-attacks. We need to have somewhere we can keep our data safe."

The company recently raised $5m from its first seed round from investors like Seldor Capital and 2 Future Holding, and has signed contracts to launch prototype demonstrations of its software and hardware capabilities. Its first launch (expected to launch at the end of 2022) will see Lonestar run a software-only test, storing data on the Nova-C lander, while the second, will see Intuitive Machines attempt to land on the Moon's South Pole, which will contain scientific equipment and a small Lonestar device, with 16 terabytes of memory. Looking ahead, the company hopes to launch servers capable of holding five petabytes of data in 2024, and 50 petabytes of data by 2026.

One issue the company will need to address as its data centers get larger is the Moon's cosmic radiation and fluctuating surface temperatures, which can change from 222.8°F (106°C) during the day to -297.4°F (-183°C) at night. Right now, the company is looking toward lunar lava tubes as the answer. Data centers could potentially be inserted into these lava tubes, which would effectively shield them from the potentially damaging effects of the Moon's climate. The tubes are yet to be investigated, but plans by the European Space Agency could see robots lowered into the lunar pits by 2033.

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