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MS partners with SpaceX, SES on satellite-based broadband

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Microsoft has collaborated with satellite communications providers SpaceX and SES to expand its cloud computing services for the space industry.

The American multinational technology giant says it has taken the next giant leap in cloud computing, by introducing a new service, Azure Space, to supply a multi-orbit, multi-band, multi-vendor, cloud-enabled capability to bring comprehensive satellite connectivity solutions to meet the needs of public and private sector organisations, including agriculture, energy and telecommunications.

Its partnership with SpaceX will provide satellite-powered Internet connectivity on Azure. The companies plan to deliver satellite connectivity between field-deployed assets and cloud resources across the globe to organisations via SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network.

The collaboration includes connecting Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband with Azure’s new Modular Data Centre (MDC), according to Microsoft.

Microsoft is already working with SES, which is one of the world’s largest satellite operators, to provide communication services as the medium earth orbit (MEO) Internet connectivity partner for Azure Orbital. The expanded partnership will see that relationship further integrate MEO satellite connectivity with the MDC.

Together, Microsoft and SES will support connectivity between cloud data centre regions and cloud edge devices, enabling direct “one-hop” connectivity to Azure for customers.

“We have brought together a team of renowned space industry veterans to work alongside our world-class product engineers and scientists to build cloud capabilities that meet the unique needs of space,” says Tom Keane, corporate VP for Azure Global.

“Our innovation areas include simulating space missions, discovering insights from satellite data and fuelling innovation both on the ground and in orbit. 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.”

As the barriers to space access fall, organisations across a multitude of industries are taking advantage of the opportunities that satellites and other space technologies can offer for endeavours such as earth observation and global satellite communications.

Microsoft says it designed the MDC to support high-intensity, secure cloud computing in challenging environments, such as situations where critical prerequisites like power and building infrastructure are unreliable.

The MDC provides organisations with capability to deploy a complete data centre to remote locations, or to augment existing infrastructure with a field-transportable solution.

As part of its Azure Space ecosystem, Microsoft has also partnered with KSAT, provider of ground communications services for satellites, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, which develops advanced communication products and platforms across the satellite ground segment.

“Commercial and government space organisations are developing thousands of inter-connected satellite constellations which require precise planning and sophisticated AI-driven formation protocols, to ensure optimal networking connectivity and operational coverage on-orbit,” states Keane.

“We are ready to support customers on their space missions off and on the planet, and to use the power of cloud and space technology to help business across industries re-imagine solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems.”

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