Microsoft partners with SpaceX on a cloud computing business for space

The initiative's Azure Orbital Emulator will help companies plan satellite constellations.


Microsoft has launched a new cloud computing business in an effort to make Azure the space industry’s platform of choice. The tech giant says it’s developing technologies to help the public and private sectors launch faster and to make sure they achieve mission assurance. One — and the first — of those technologies is the Azure Orbital Emulator, which is capable of conducting massive satellite constellation simulations.

The tech giant says satellite constellations “require precise planning and sophisticated AI-driven formation protocols” and that the emulator can help developers by generating scenarios in real time using pre-collected satellite imagery. Companies and organizations can use it to train AI algorithms and to make sure the satellite network they’re planning will work just like they’re expecting it to before they launch a single satellite.

In addition, Microsoft is teaming up with space companies under the initiative to provide services to the industry here on Earth. One of its most notable partners is SpaceX, which will provide the tech giant access to its Starlink satellite network for the Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC). The MDC is a self-contained datacenter unit that can be transported anywhere it’s needed for clients’ cloud computing and storage needs. It can operate in harsh conditions and in challenging environments, including remote locations.

Microsoft concluded its announcement with a promise to help customers in the space industry with projects off and on the planet:

“Our approach helps to address the some of the toughest technology challenges that our customers face in space: dealing with the vast amount of data generated from satellites, bringing cloud services and bandwidth to the most remote locations, and designing highly complex space systems. Coupled with our ecosystem of partners than can help bring this data to ground faster, we’re making it easier to find insights and make connections that weren’t possible before.

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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