For a long time, people resorted to benches and brokers to choose the best way to allocate their resources. But, currently, there is a much more advantageous option for consolidating your assets or simply transferring money between users: the transaction of criptomoedas. Unlike other currencies, such as the real or the dollar, cryptocurrencies only exist in the virtual environment, being stored in a digital wallet. 

And they are many. According to 2020 statistics, the number of existing cryptocurrencies exceeds 6 thousand, and is constantly growing. Bitcoin is the main one, accounting for almost 60% of the total market capitalization. 

There are more than 6 thousand registered cryptocurrencies, bitcoin being the most used of them. Image: Igor Batrakov – Shutterstock

Transactions are generally done via the internet, but there are cases of real-time operations via satellites in space. This way, everyone can have free access to the bitcoin network, anywhere in the world, even if they do not have a connection to the world wide web. 

For experts on the subject, this is nothing new. But what if the intermediary satellite of transactions is not “anyone”, but our great natural satellite, which is 384.405 km away from us? Yes, the Moon.

It seems a little strange and even hard to believe, but a team made up of professionals and enthusiasts in the field achieved this feat: sending Bitcoins to the Moon, using the celestial body as an “agent” in a financial transaction. 

And the most incredible thing about all this is that the unprecedented transaction, that is, never carried out before by anyone in the world, is the result of national efforts. That's right, the group responsible for the action is all made up of Brazilians. The professionals involved are all amateur radio enthusiasts, blockchain developers or IT entrepreneurs. 

Marcio Gandra, blockchain developer, led the team, formed by Rafael Silveira Batschauer (SAP developer), Paulo Bezerra (Security Systems developer), André Alvarenga (Bitcoin P2P) and Narcélio Filho (software developer). 

Marcio Gandra, blockchain developer, led the team of radio amateurs responsible for sending bitcoin to the Moon. Image: Personal Archive

About his profession, Gandra explains that the term blockchain literally means chain of blocks, that is, blocks of information connected together by a linear/temporal logic, in addition to being encrypted. In these blocks all types of information are stored: in the case of cryptocurrencies this is a record of all financial transactions on a network. 

Elon Musk announced that he would send cryptocurrencies to the Moon; Brazilians came out ahead 

In an interview with Olhar Digital, Gandra said that the intention was to make Narcélio receive R$50 in bitcoin from Alvarenga, through a multi-signature transaction that was validated by Bezerra and Batschauer, since they were about 800 km away from each other. 

It's because? "The idea came from the buzz caused by Elon Musk by saying that it would send cryptocurrencies to the Moon. If the data converted to a wave is the transaction itself touching the lunar ground, we could perform the feat ourselves first”, says the developer.

"My involvement with amateur radio has lasted 20 years, and as during the lockdown period several concerns about the preservation of individual freedoms were raised, radio would be one of the biggest and best alternatives in case of communication deprivation in a possible apocalyptic or dictatorial scenario ”, he believes. 

Three months of preparation 

According to Gandra, the preparations took three months. “The event itself, between tests and execution, lasted from the 24th to the 29th of April”, he explains. 

On the 29th, at night, he was with Batschauer, who would be the first signatory of the operation, on the balcony of his house in Macacos (MG), surrounded by his radio equipment and a directional antenna. Bezerra, the second signatory, was in Marília (SP). Alvarenga, responsible for sending the money, and Narcélio, receiving the amount, were both in Belo Horizonte (MG). 

That night, the phenomenon of Pink Moon, when the natural satellite is closest to Earth, ideal for experiments of this type. 

Gandra says that, as the Moon is in constant motion, the operation required a lot of caution and calm. “With each small movement that the Moon made, we lost transmission continuity and had to stop from that point to start again from then on. There were several pauses and restarts until the entire transaction was completed”. Also, the low power equipment for the feat (1/5 of the recommended) required a lot of patience and persistence. "When we received the first audio confirmation of the shipment, the joy was enormous." reports Gandra. 

Transaction featured technology created by the British military in the 40s 

Briefly, the procedure consisted of sending the amount by Alvarenga, validation of the process by Batschauer and Bezerra and receipt by Narcélio. By the conventional way, Batschauer received and signed the transaction. Then he sent the information to Bezerra, reflected in the lunar ground.

The developer of security systems, then, with his antenna also directed to the Moon and in constant contact with Gandra via WhatsApp to confirm reception, was receiving and decoding the message, with the help of a cell phone application. 

The process took about 25 minutes. When Bezerra was finally in possession of the complete message, he reconstructed the transaction file and climbed into his Electrum wallet to make the second signature and send it to the final recipient. 

To perform the procedure, they used a technique created by the British military in the 40s, known as Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communication. Through this method, a transmitter propagates radio waves to the Moon, which reflects them back to Earth and can be received by anyone. 

“In a professional EME situation, tracking software would be used to track the Moon's movement in real time,” he explains. “In our case, this follow-up was 'in the nail', as they say”. 

It was necessary to convert the transaction data, downloading the Electrum wallet file, where the encrypted information was in hexadecimal (letters and numbers). This data was then converted to binary (0 and 1) and finally transformed into morse code. According to Gandra, "Morse code was used because it is a simple, easy-to-understand mode of communication, with converters or tables on the side, and analog". 

He explains that, in order to send the PSBT file – which means partially signed Bitcoin transaction – in another mode, it would be recommended to use the binary in protocols suitable for moon-bounce, ie, digital radio. “However, the entire infrastructure was analog, and we wanted to do it as rudimentary as possible to bring the experiment closer to the reality of common people”, he explains. 

Rafael Silveira Batschauer, SAP developer, accompanied Gandra in the process and was responsible for the first data validation. Image: Personal Archive

For Batschauer, the experience has great meaning. “Our goal was to break down the barriers to sending bitcoin and bring more alternatives of freedom and economic inclusion. We live in a period in which the sphere of censorship seems to be expanding more and more. And this experience of sending Bitcoins to the Moon has become quite emblematic, as it directly confronts any attempt to restrict both the use of cryptocurrencies and the use of the Internet." 

“Not just making Bitcoin hit the moon,” says Gandra. “It was an experiment to call attention to the idea of ​​radio transmission as another alternative. We want to bring back the interest of younger people to amateur radio and be able to expand our options for freedom”, he adds. 

Batschauer and Gandra are founders of Gyme.Run, a runner-oriented app that works with cashback in cryptocurrencies per kilometer run. According to them, the need for this app comes from the fact that, most of the time, the runner may be on a trail and need to send or withdraw coins without an Internet connection. “Having the radio, this would be easily resolved,” explains Batschauer.

Special message for Elon Musk 

After confirming the success of the experiment, the team made sure to leave a message in English for the eccentric billionaire founder of SpaceX: "I am the first bitcoin to reach the moon. We did it first, Elon :)". 

“We proved that no multi-billion dollar rocket is needed to send cryptocurrency to the Moon”, jokes the Brazilian. “The feeling of having accomplished this feat is speechless, you feel like a 'cryptonaut' doing what seemed possible only in SpaceX and NASA's tweets,” says Gandra. 

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He says that the enthusiasm is not just for the feat itself, but for the freedom and dozens of possibilities that this can bring to people. "You can encourage financial inclusion in remote places without internet, bringing another alternative to the resilience of the Bitcoin network, another layer of anti-censorship protection and, most importantly, being able to connect the new generation to amateur radio, an extremely important sector in society. People are not aware of how much our lives are directly linked to the radio on a daily basis, whether in the use of radio, TV, cell phones, or even hospital equipment activated and controlled by radio waves", he guarantees. 

International repercussion and recognition of the great 

Even the famous Adam Back has been enjoying the group's publications on the networks, proof that the feat had wide repercussions among the “bitcoiners”. 

To tune in: The first report describing the Bitcoin implementation was presented in 2007 on The Cryptography Mailing mailing list by a programmer under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Nobody, to this day, knows who Nakamoto really is. 

Bitcoin specialist podcaster Anita Posch spoke about the Brazilian achievement on Twitter. His tweet was liked by British cryptographer Adam Back, one of the world's biggest names in the business. Image: Personal File - Screenshot

There are suspicions that Adam Back, British cryptographer, CEO and co-founder of Blockstream, a technology company focused on innovation in cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, is behind this identity. Anyway, Back is one of the biggest names in the world in the field, which is why his recognition of the actions of our Brazilians is a huge achievement for the team. 

“Satoshi Nakamoto was the creator of Bitcoin. It is not known exactly who he was or is, if he is alive or not, if he is an urban legend or a hidden real figure. The important thing about Satoshi Nakamoto is that he was the father of a financial revolution that the State has not been able to prevent its growth and dissemination until today”, explains Gandra. “It's a living threat to the economic establishment that is based on debt and inflation. Bitcoin is deflationary, incorruptible and transparent – ​​that bothers a lot”. 

He says that the feat also had great repercussions this past weekend, during a world Bitcoin event in Miami, receiving coverage from personalities such as Anita Posch, Jameson Lopp and Marty Bent, major global influencers on the subject. “The transaction entered the records of the Bitcoin yearbook, a kind of file with the most important milestones [historical mark, in free translation]”, says Gandra, satisfied. 

Marty Bent, editor-in-chief of Marty's Martent, a daily Bitcoin newsletter, also echoed the event for Gandra and his team. Image: Personal file - Screenshot

And it's not just Brazilians who like a good meme. "The international Bitcoin community made a video putting me alongside Michael Saylor (who masterfully countered Elon Musk on Bitcoin), and the coin reaching the moon over radio waves." Check out the game below:

Next mission will be broadcast live 

The team's next mission is to use ISS (International Space Station) transceivers to issue an Invoice (invoice) from Lightning Network (alternative Bitcoin network for instant payments) and replicate it back to Earth after payment .

Gandra explains that the ISS has a receiver and a transmitter in multiple radio bands. “We will use VHF and UHF transmitters. Several radio amateurs make contact with the ISS, some even with the station's crew. On YouTube, there is very rich material in this regard, just look for ISS ham radio. We want to use this medium to be able to make an interstate transaction, using these radios as reflectors of the action”, he says. 

This action may be accompanied by any radio amateur that modulates the specific frequency. 

"It is important to emphasize that sending a transaction over the radio waves does not constitute the pecuniary use of the radio, since no product or service is being marketed over the waves, and what is being sent is not a value in itself, but a digital file containing texts about the transaction where it only becomes value after it is signed by the other party and published on the blockchain for validation by the miners” he highlights.

“It's as if that file contained the information that X wants to transfer a Z value to Y, Bitcoin doesn't travel by itself, what happens is a change of address of that value inside the blockchain, where it never left. So when we say that Bitcoin played on the Moon, the metaphor says exactly that, the data of a transaction, not the cryptocurrency itself”, he adds.

Gandra says he created a non-profit project called Satoshi.Radio.Br, which intends to function as an interconnected network of transaction listeners and broadcasters through a new digital radio protocol containing transaction metadata. "After the development of the protocol, it will be presented to the competent authorities in order to promote its adoption and regulation."

He explains that the main objective is to serve regions that lack access to the Internet or telecommunications, “promoting the financial inclusion of disadvantaged groups”. In addition, according to Gandra, "the project includes an exclusive channel for radio education with tips, information and everything people need to learn to operate the radio and understand about cryptocurrencies." 

Radio Amateur proposes public hearing to debate bitcoin transfer event to Lua

After all the repercussion involving the experiment, the Olhar Digital returned to talk to him to clarify the controversies raised. Among the various comments made in the article on the 8th, in addition to those posted in the Facebook and on Instagram, some questioned the occurrence of the event, punctuating details that could disprove the facts.

"I read a review by a PY category ham radio, which is the highest ham radio, and, among other offenses, some slurs, slander and slander, he called his group to cause a flood of negative messages in some stories, saying that that hadn't happened and that people didn't have licenses,” says Gandra. “Which is even ambiguous, because if the event did not take place, then there is nothing illegal. And if the event occurred, and in fact it did, we have the legal part also supported”, he guarantees. 

He explains that his failure to disclose his PU prefix can be attributed to a security issue. “We only released the PX. Because, from the moment you have that callsign there, the PU prefix, people look up your full name, your personal data, and we live in a world where this kind of exposure is not interesting. You have to be really careful.” 

Gandra compares disbelief at the feat to the denial, to this day, of the man having set foot on the moon. "There are people, even today, who do not believe that man has set foot on the moon. And it is not a small number of people." And it proposes a public debate between interested parties. “Both the ham radio community and the bitcoin community deserve this clarification, and I invite everyone to join in on that. Regulators, radio amateurs, government entities. Let's set up a public hearing and let's talk about this protocol, about this idea?”.

Márcio Gandra compares the critics' disbelief in relation to his experiment with denial until today in relation to man having stepped on the Moon.
Image: Castleski – Shutterstock

He says he finds it strange that people attacking him prefer to do this through internet comments rather than looking for him directly. “I look forward to your contribution. Anyone who wants to talk to me, the emails were there from the beginning. None of you sent an email. You have come with a desire to attack, to insult, that you are exposing yourselves. This matter is going around Brazil, it's going around the world. What happened, no one is going to take it from us”, he says.

Technical limitations do not necessarily imply unethical

“From the photos used in the article, the equipment mentioned would not have sufficient technical conditions to practice EME”, says the radio amateur Vinícius Lenci, in one of the critical comments to Gandra. Josias Camargo, author of another comment, reinforces: “It is impossible to do what they say they have done with the equipment shown in the photos”.

Print Screen - Olhar Digital

Luciano Silva Ferreira goes even further: “I am a radio amateur prefixed by PU2LUC and, with all certainty, I claim to be false [what it says] in this article. And it's up to National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) investigate these clandestines using amateur radio spectrum without proper license”.

Gandra justifies the points raised. “Well, first of all, the experiment was a source of intense joy for us. It took three months of trying, [between] errors, equipment changes, attempts at different frequencies, equipment, devices. Until, finally, we got a signal using a simpler antenna than recommended by the YouTube EME guides, where many spoke of the need to use only the digital mode, in microwaves, with very large satellite dishes. Yes, this is a fact. The EME requires a lot of detail and a lot of equipment power to break through these barriers and, above all, an excellent pickup, because the signals are very weak. To give you an idea, around 5% to 6% of the emitted signal returns to Earth. If you send an X power, less than 10% of that power will return to the antenna. So, in reception, you have to have a much more sensitive setup, with amplifiers and noise reducers, in relation to emission, where you will need more direction and power. Of course the gain in decibels of the antenna also contributes and the band and frequency that the person is doing too”.

On his license to operate as a radio amateur, Gandra defends himself against the accusations received, even stating that some comments are subject to legal measures. “Seeing some comments from radio amateurs concerned about this legal issue, I am a class C radio amateur, approved in the Anatel test in January of this year, so, as far as illegality is concerned, there was nothing illegal. I could use several bands, several bands, several frequencies allowed in class C. I had support from LABRE-MG, Liga de Amadores Brasileiros de Rádio Emissão de Minas Gerais, to issue my callsign as well. I joined LABRE recently and I know several older radio amateurs, people with 30 to 40 years of activity in the area. They gave me a lot of guidance, and I owe them a lot for everything they taught me”.

Regarding the transfer of bitcoins via the Moon, he reiterates, as explained in the previous article, that it is not bitcoin itself that reflects on the lunar ground. “Saying that bitcoin hit the moon is a metaphor, it's obvious. Because bitcoin doesn't leave the blockchain, your blockchain wallet, under any circumstances. When you make a bitcoin transaction, you are not physically moving that bitcoin from one wallet to another. You are relocating the records”, he clarifies. “The blockchain is a public ledger, where you are simply moving values ​​in there, from one portfolio to another. So, when you say 'Bitcoin played on the moon', what actually reflected on lunar ground was a wave that transferred a PSBT file, which is a partially signed transaction file.” 

According to Gandra, this means sending a value from A to B, in which the issuer assembles a file containing a transaction and creates dependencies for that transaction to occur. “So, for example, I'm going to send from X to Y, where Z and A will have to sign this transaction to validate it. Let's say, in a company, I have partners, and I need to write a check. I will have to have the signature of the other two partners. So, it works analogously to that”.

No encrypted file was sent

The team was also accused of acting illegally by allegedly sending an encrypted file via radio. Gandra assures us that this did not happen. “What was reflected on lunar ground was the PSBT file converted to hexadecimal and then transformed into morse code for easier listening and listening on the other side. If it had been transmitted in digital in hex, the person would have heard noises, even hiss similar to the modem we were used to hearing in the beginning of the internet. This PSBT file, it is not an encrypted file, so the claim of some, that it cannot send encrypted file over radio waves, by regulation of Anatel, falls apart, because the bitcoin protocol is a public protocol. Anyone with this protocol in hand can walk back and see in the file there a text of a written transaction. So, a value was not sent, bitcoin was not sent to lunar ground, a reference to a transaction was sent, in unencoded text format, so that it only becomes a financial transaction when it receives a second signature at the other end ”.

Gandra says he was surprised by the way he and his team were attacked. “I didn't imagine that it would become a swarm of accusations, offenses and attacks from the legal point of view of the operation. From the technical point of view of the operation, we have placed several references on our page Satoshi.Radio.Br, with powers and equipment even inferior to the ones we used, so if by chance some more famous PY in the middle of EME said they needed equipment X or Y, I totally respect and believe that, yes, it is a complex process. We live it in the skin there. I even offered my equipment for one of these to test, to make its way back, and he refused. Said it's a very difficult experiment. We even had a very friendly conversation, in the sense of mutual respect”.

Achievement deserves recognition and cannot be erased, says Gandra

According to Márcio Gandra, the feat represents a great contribution to ham radio, and from ham radio to society. "I think that the feat cannot be erased by supposedly ethical or legislative issues, because we are blocking innovation in many ways, preventing people from carrying out feats that will contribute to humanity"

He proposes a reflection to the questioners. “I ask all radio amateurs: what was the last contribution that amateur radio made to the world, society and humanity after the Second World War? What have ham radio or ham radios done to society in the last 50 or 60 years? An invention or another of a protocol, rounds where you talk about the climate, the weather. Sending messages in digital mode at a distance, competing with those who send and listen further. Putting a carrier in conversation with others because it has more power than the other. Is this the contribution to society that amateur radio raises the flag and claims to defend the interests of the radio and the population? I think we should get our hands on our conscience and think about it a lot when attacking a person, accusing a person and imputing a crime to a person. Because we live in a world that got to where it is because of innovation, because of people who had the courage and, often, no or little equipment to be able to break these barriers and do what they wanted”.

For Gandra, there are much more important issues to be tackled within amateur radio. “Why don't you have the vigor with which you came at us with traffickers who use radio, set up and maintain stations inside the favelas that make ours even the envy? Public authorities can't do anything, you, much less. Why don't you induce and force the IRS to ban the amount of unapproved Chinese radios that dump in our country all day long? Millions of radios arrive in the country without approval. These simple radios, from R$100 to R$150, many with power from 10 to 20 watts, without filter, without any protection, causing interference in different equipment, different devices. Where is the rigor against this? Where is your strength against this?”.

He questions critics about the negligence of criminal fronts acting on the radio. "Where is this urge to enter posts and articles and go cursing, talking about the Federal Police, about Anatel, a crime, among other things, when they see a militia or a drug trafficking group hijacking an internet antenna to charge the surrounding population for service ?”.

Gandra attributes these attitudes to cowardice. “Why are they going to focus on the little one, who is innovating? Because they don't have the courage. [Against the big ones] they don't have strength. They don't have enough apparatus. Things are very well set up. But, with the weak, they come with that vigor, when they want to innovate. It's a lot of cowardice. You were cowards. The comments were sad, deplorable and some even subject to legal action, due to slander and defamation. Why hasn't anyone contacted you by email, formally, politely requesting? Some people even got banned from Instagram. That is not ethical behavior, of the radio amateur who claims to be ethical, when contesting a colleague, doing it that way, throwing rocks. So, there were mistakes made by several people in these notes, which ended up taking the shine off the feat a little”, he laments.

Group was accused of making pecuniary use when transferring bitcoin via radio

According to Anatel, the commercial or pecuniary use of radio is prohibited. Gandra and his team were accused of doing this practice in their experiment. 

“Anatel is absolutely right in prohibiting the pecuniary use of radio, that is, its use with a financial purpose, in the sense of using radio to obtain financial advantage”, says Gandra. “Do you know what the pecuniary use of radio is that Anatel wants to avoid? She wants to prevent people from marketing products and services. That you join a band to do a round with radio hams, which is a nice conversation, and there's someone there selling her service. Saying 'look, I'm a doctor, do you want to make an appointment?', for example. Imagine the number of companies and advertising agencies that would not use the radio to keep sending jingles, messages, people increasing their power to pass over others. It would be hell really.” 

He justifies that this is not what his team did. “It's very different from using the radio to transmit information where a financial process is taking place there. This is very different. And there's no way to deny it, because the NFC is that. What is exchanged there are waves, radio frequencies that were used to transmit information”.

Gandra refers to the proximity technology cards, the so-called Near Field Communication (NFC), which means communication by proximity field, in free translation. “NFC cards are what? Is it cotton that goes there? And water? They are radio waves. When you touch your card to a payment machine, and it executes a financial transaction, what happens there is exactly what we did. There came a QR Code, a protocol, it wasn't real money there. It was a protocol that meant a payment”. 

Project intends to revolutionize financial transactions in Brazil

Regarding the Satoshi.Radio.Br program, Gandra has great expectations. “This protocol that we intend to create is still in its initial phase. It's a protocol for financial transactions, to compact it, to make it simpler, in short packages. It is a collaborative, non-profit work. In case of success, this protocol will be presented to the amateur radio authorities and bodies, not least because it needs to be tested, it needs to be validated and approved even by international amateur radio bodies”.

According to Gandra, in Brazil, for every three people, one is “debanked”. Which means they haven't operated a bank account for more than six months. “This is a very high number, they are 30% of the population. If you add these debanked people to those who live in isolated regions, which often don't even have the internet, you have the radio as a means of financial inclusion for these people”, believes the entrepreneur. 

“Imagine, for example, you making a PIX over the radio. It would be totally possible with this technology”, he says. 

He believes that this would even interest the Central Bank. And he regrets the opinion of critics, who do not see the revolutionary potential of the feat. “Imagine the possibility that opens up. Nobody saw it either. Critics don't see this because the blindness and the connection to hatred are so great that it consumes the person. For example, a gentleman, who was blocked on Instagram. He was putting together elements to be able to create a narrative in which he put us in a totally criminal way, which totally took the shine out of it.” 

Gandra asks people to be aware. “Put your hand on your conscience, whoever criticized. Do this analysis that I suggested. What has been your contribution to amateur radio in recent years? And, not just for ham radio, but for society. What has the radio been doing?"

He also criticizes those who attack him, questioning what use these people make of radio. “How many people are PY and have never done anything but set up an antenna? How many are out there spending time on the radio to exchange callsigns? The ham radio rounds are over. The ones that are left, stay there with conversations that don't add anything. A chat. Of course everyone uses the radio in whatever way they want, I'm not condemning that. If the guy wants to keep changing postcards, let him do it, it's a hobby, he has to take pleasure in it. I am an advocate of freedom in all instances. Who am I to say what you're going to do or not on the radio? But the issue is social responsibility, what are we doing for society, what are the solutions we are proposing”.

Gandra highlights the significant contribution of bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, to society, as well as the strength that the bitcoiner community has. “This experiment says all about it. bitcoin talks about freedom. It's not coercion. If you know the bitcoin community, you're going to be scared. She revolutionized the world. It is stronger than government and bank combined. You gather groups of amateurs who are angry with the feat, questioning a series of things, which are considered strong, or greater than what is happening." 

He makes an almost premonitory warning. “This will swallow you up. You will use your antennas to send these transactions in the future. Your kids will do it,” and calls for more unity among the class. “Don't block it, guys. Open your head. And it doesn't challenge the bitcoin community. Treat them with a lot of respect, the way we treat you too. Many will become hams after this feat. we are going to open an instruction channel, we are going to catechize these people in amateur radio. The power of this community is enormous. If every bitcoiner starts buying radio (and a lot of clandestine radio is coming into the country), it's over. It will become an instrument of freedom and libertarian, which no body will be able to hold, as neither bank nor government could hold Bitcoin. Is that what you want? Let's join forces. We are not going to segregate forces”. 

LABRE disputes the event and asks Anatel to find out

Both the League of Brazilian Amateurs of Radio Broadcast (LABRE) of Minas Gerais and the national entity issued official notes on their internet pages in which contest the feat. LABRE sent an official letter to the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) requesting the investigation of the case.

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