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Though there have been a lot of innovations in cloud infrastructure and providing Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for various AI/ML companies, spacetech is still in nascent stages with only a few big players taking steps to expand the field. As of August 5, there were 5,500 space tech startups in the world, out of which, over 100 startups were in India.
Space technology infrastructure is important because it provides the foundation for space exploration. The biggest players in space technology, NASA and ISRO, too use spacetech platforms built by Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon.
Here’s a list of companies providing spacetech platforms as a service to fuel innovations in the space sector by providing communication, data retrieval, and analysis services – on ground, on the cloud, and beyond!
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Microsoft Azure Space
Microsoft has partnered with NASA for many projects since the beginning of space exploration. It recently launched the Azure Space platform, which enables space innovations with its infrastructure in the cloud. This cloud system is connected to Azure’s Orbital Ground Station for rapid ingestion of data from the space. This enables low-latency connection between satellites and Azure cloud services, extending communication and also allowing space innovations from anywhere. Recently, Microsoft launched Azure Orbital Space SDK for democratization of space development by offering Infrastructure-as-a service (IaaS), a hosting platform for developers to test and deploy space hardware.
AWS in Space
Besides Microsoft, AWS too offers its cloud services for space missions with its innovation AWS in Space. AWS Ground Station was used by Northern Sky Research for their mission for cloud computing. It is a fully managed service for controlling satellite communications, processing data, and scaling operations. AWS’s cloud infrastructure offers low-latency global fiber networks like Amazon Kinesis for storing and managing data and Amazon SageMaker for building machine learning applications.
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Recently, at re:Invent 2022, AWS announced a suite of machine learning and computation softwares on an orbiting satellite for 10 months on a Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This was done in partnership with D-Orbit and Unibap.
NASA partnered with IBM around 50 years ago to land humans on the Moon. Since then, IBM has been innovating new technologies for enabling space missions. In 2021, IBM collaborated with HPE Spaceborne Computer-2, which are the ground stations, NASA, and ISS National Lab to provide edge computing solutions in space. In October 2022, IBM got into a partnership with Sierra Space to build a space infrastructure for LEO commercialisation. This is to further Sierra Space’s space innovation using IBM’s seamless cloud technology and using it in space.
Furthermore, James Webb Telescope also uses IBM built Rational Rose RealTime tool for handling time-critical events. It is mostly used to create models of systems based on unified modeling language (UML) built for generating implementation code.
Having partnered with NASA, Jaxa, and ISA, Ramon.Space provides hardware and software services to space tech companies for deep space missions. The features include remote sensing, Earth observation, and IoT for space missions. The storage and memory capabilities are designed specifically keeping AI/ML in mind.
The software is fully-programmable on-orbit satellite payloads enabling Earth-like computing with high performance and low weight in space. CEO Avi Shabtai announced in November that they have developed new space-hardened silicon circuits along with hardware, partnering with LEOCloud, Azure, and Axiom Space, the company behind the first commercial space station.
With the intent of building an operating system for space, Vyoma, a company based in Germany, provides an infrastructure for satellite safety. Vyoma provides a sleek API and GUI for data retrieval and network tasking for tasks like orbit determination and identification. The company has been catering to governments, defense, and satellite operators across the globe.
In May 2022, Vyoma announced its partnership with the European giant Atos for building a database for tiny space objects. The objective of the partnership is to deliver space situational awareness (SSA) data to develop solutions for satellite operators to avoid collisions and reduce spacecraft maneuvers.