Modern datacenters consume loads of power, require extremely complex cooling, and are physically vulnerable to natural disasters and military conflicts. Datacenters 10 years from now will get even more complex, power hungry, and hot. There are several radical ways to solve power and cooling problems, but one startup plans to solve the problem by putting data centers on the Moon, and it already has two spaceflights booked to place equipment on the moon. The end goal is to have a network of servers on the moon that's fed by a nuclear reactor.
As it turns out, Lonestar Data Holdings plans to establish a network of data centers on the Moon, reports DataCenterKnowledge. In fact, the company has already contracted with Intuitive Machines for its first two missions to the lunar surface and to build its first proof-of-concept data services payload, thus building the first data center on the Moon. The actual RISC-V-based machines will be built by Skycorp.
"Data is the greatest currency created by the human race," said 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."
There are numerous challenges with installing a data center on the lunar surface. Of course, the expenses associated with delivering the servers to the Moon are one of them, but powering the servers and connecting them to the Internet are two other challenges.
It is possible to use solar panels for the proof of concept, but something more tangible would require a small nuclear reactor. Helium-3-based reactors will be used in the long-term, and there is plenty of Helium-3 on the Moon.
To connect these machines to the Internet, Lonestar will use a turnkey solution from Intuitive Machines, but for its longer-term plans, Lonestar has made the necessary spectrum filings for its missions with the ITU. One thing to keep in mind about using radios to connect servers on the Moon is that it takes about 2.7 seconds for radio waves to reach the lunar surface and return, which may be too long for the quality of service that we are used to today.
One of the particularly interesting things about Lonestar's experimental data centers is that it plans to use Skycorp servers based on the RISC-V open-source instruction set architecture (ISA).
"Skycorp is pleased to be able to provide our advanced multi-core RISC-V in space server architecture to the forward thinking team at Lonestar," said Dennis Wingo, CEO and Founder of Skycorp. "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."
While there are no fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters on the Moon, the planet has another major problem: The lunar surface is constantly bombarded by meteorites (since the Moon lacks atmosphere, they do not burn), and some estimates say that around 1.4 tons of meteorites fall onto the lunar surface every day. Installing servers on a continuously bombarded surface is a risk, and it is unclear how Lonestar plans to mitigate it.