Microsoft announces Azure Space and partnership with SpaceX

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Move targets public and private industry customers as well as governments.

Microsoft announced this week that it’s making its Azure cloud-computing services available to the space industry. The new platform, called Azure Space, will provide space-based Azure services to customers in the agriculture, energy, telecommunications, and government markets. It will also serve customers with remote-access and bandwidth needs.

As a part of this announcement, the company also unveiled its new partnership with SpaceX. This joint initiative aims to bring high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband capabilities to the most remote locations on earth.

New partnership challenges Amazon in the “final frontier”

Microsoft’s chief competitor in Cloud computing is Amazon Web Services. In June, AWS announced its own space-industry strategy and space unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions. The company has also launched its own satellite connection service, called AWS Ground Station.

Microsoft seeks strength through partnership

Tom Keane, Corporate Vice President, Azure Global, explained what he considers to be Azure Space’s main strength. “Our innovation areas include simulating space missions, discovering insights from satellite data, and fueling innovation both on the ground and in orbit,” he said.

“By partnering with leaders in the space community, we will extend the utility of our Azure capabilities with worldwide satellite connectivity, unblock cloud computing in more scenarios, and empower our partners and customers to achieve more.”

Meet the Azure Space Partners

The SpaceX partnership will connect Starlink’s high speed, low-latency satellite broadband with Azure’s new Modular Datacenter (MDC).

Other partners include SES, which teamed up with Microsoft to provide communication services as the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) internet connectivity.

KSAT will provide ground stations that will be interconnected with Azure so that Azure Orbital customers will be able to use the platform to schedule satellite contacts and bring data to Azure for processing and storage.

ViaSat will be working with Azure Orbital, integrating its Real-Time Earth (RTE) solution into the Microsoft platform.

In addition, Microsoft will be working with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, AMERGINT, Kubos and US EIectrodynamics (USEI).

“We have made a deliberate decision to work with partners to deliver our offerings to commercial and government customers. Creating opportunities in helping build broader ecosystems is core to everything we do at Microsoft,” said Keane.