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Blockstream Satellite

Overview

The Blockstream Satellite network broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain worldwide 24/7 for free, protecting against network interruptions and providing areas without reliable internet connection with the opportunity to use Bitcoin. You can join this network by running your own Blockstream Satellite receiver node. This document guides you over all the hardware options, software components, and assembly instructions.

The first step to get started is to verify whether your location has satellite coverage and clear line-of-sight to the satellite in the sky. You can confirm the coverage by looking at our Coverage Map. After that, make sure your satellite view does not have any obstacles, such as trees or buildings. You can find the target area in the sky by using the antenna pointing angles provided by our coverage map or by using an augmented reality app such as the Satellite Pointer (available for iOS and Android).

The second step is to get the required hardware. The quickest option is to purchase a ready-to-use Satellite Kit. However, as detailed in this guide, there is a range of other options to suit your needs.

Third, you need to prepare a host computer with a few software components. One of them is the Bitcoin Satellite application, a fork of Bitcoin Core with custom capabilities to receive the Bitcoin blocks and transactions arriving from space. As detailed later, this step is greatly facilitated by the Blockstream Satellite command-line interface (CLI) tool, which handles all the necessary software installations.

Once you get your receiver node up and running, there is a lot that you can do with it. You can use it as a satellite-connected Bitcoin node offering redundancy and protection from internet failures to connected peers. Alternatively, you can run it as your primary Bitcoin full node, either with hybrid connectivity (internet and satellite) or satellite-connected only. The satellite network broadcasts new blocks and transactions, as well as the complete block history. Hence, you can synchronize the entire blockchain from scratch using the satellite connection only.

You can also send your own encrypted messages worldwide through the satellite network using our Satellite API while paying for each transmission through the Lightning Network. Moreover, if you run a Lightning node, you can sync it faster through Lightning gossip snapshots sent over satellite. You can even download the Bitcoin source code over satellite and bootstrap the node without ever touching the internet.

The remainder of this guide covers the essential steps to get you started. In summary, you will need to:

  1. Get the required hardware, such as a DVB-S2 receiver and a compatible satellite antenna.
  2. Install all software requirements, configure the receiver, and configure the host.
  3. Align your satellite dish appropriately to receive the Blockstream Satellite signal.
  4. Run the Bitcoin Satellite and Satellite API applications.

A quick reference guide is available if you are familiar with the commands and steps of the process. Moreover, if you have purchased a satellite kit, you can follow the kit-specific instructions available on Blockstream’s Help Center. Otherwise, we recommend continuing on this guide. You can proceed to the next section, which covers the hardware options.

Support

For additional help, you can join the #blockstream-satellite IRC channel on freenode or contact Blockstream Support.