I read an article recently about Stephen Kitay – the Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, who is now Senior Director at Microsoft Azure Space. It got me thinking… Firstly.. what a cool job title…. and secondly… what is Azure Space..
It’s quite cool.. Tech and Space!
Microsoft says that “Azure Space was created to be the platform and ecosystem of choice for the mission needs of the space community” . It’s designed to make connectivity and compute increasingly attainable across industries including agriculture, energy, telecommunications, and government.”
I loved researching and sharing some of what I read. What a great project to be part of… Imagine being asked what do you at a networking event and saying “supporting customers on their space missions off and on the planet, using the power of cloud and space technology to help business across industries re-imagine solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems”
Taking cloud-powered innovation beyond Earth with “Azure Space”.
With the enormous challenges space presents, there also comes great opportunity. The space community is growing rapidly, and innovation is lowering the barriers of access for public and private sector organizations.
Microsoft is the first hyperscale cloud service provider to join the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) as a member organization and they plan to share our unique global threat insights to protect critical infrastructure and strengthen cybersecurity expertise across the space community.
What is the purpose and applications for Azure Space?
“Microsoft are diligently working to make Azure the platform of choice for the mission needs of the space community, bringing our unique global threats insights to protect critical infrastructure and strengthen cybersecurity expertise in the space industry“.
But…. Its not just about sticking Azure in space stations and shuttles.
Putting compute, data and AI into space makes connectivity and compute increasingly more attainable and accessible across the globe and has huge benefits across industries such as agriculture, energy, telecommunications as well as across the public sector and in particular in regions where traditional connectivity and access to compute is more sparse. Third and developing world nations will also hugely benefit. “ our ambition is to grow the entire world community, which is the basis for Azure Space.”
OK so what is Azure Space though?
Azure Space is basically a set of innovative service offerings, a new partner ecosystem and a global strategy focused on specific core areas to addresses never-before-seen security challenges. Azure Space is made up of 3 main things..
Azure Orbital is a Ground Station As-a-Service that provides communication and control of a satellite and enables satellite operators to communicate with and control their satellites, process data, and scale operations within Microsoft Azure.
Azure Orbital brings satellite data directly into Azure, where it can immediately be processed with market-leading data analytics, geospatial tools, machine learning, and Azure AI services.
In essence Azure Orbital will allow organisations/providers of “space connected stuff”, to take full advantage of the Microsoft’s global network and services infrastructure to build new product offerings and services with the edge, 5G, SD-WAN, and AI.
Azure Modula Datacenter
The Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC) is a complete, rugged datacenter solution for organisations/servjce providers that need cloud computing capabilities in hybrid, sparse or challenging environments like space.
Microsoft 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. Built on Azure Stack(r), it is a self-contained unit the provides the capability to deploy a complete datacenter to remote locations, or to complement existing infrastructure. The MDC runs primarily on terrestrial fiber, low-bandwidth networks, or be completely disconnected.
Azure Orbital Simulator
With space mow opening up to more commercial and government space organisation, the pace and demand of developing interconnected satellite networks increases exponentially.
To aid with this, Microsoft have created Azure Orbital Emulator, an emulation environment that conducts massive satellite constellation simulations with software and hardware in the loop. This allows satellite developers to evaluate and train AI algorithms and satellite networking before ever launching a single satellite reducing cost, time and money as well as human safety naturally. With Azure Orbital Emulator, Azure can emulate an entire satellite network including complex, real-time scene generation using pre-collected satellite imagery for direct processing by virtualized and actual satellite hardware.
“The Goal of Azure Orbital Emulator is to aid the preparation of space missions with the power of Azure.”
Azure Orbital Emulator is already being used Azure Government customers globally.
Credits and further reading
Some of the content here is referenced/quoted from the full comprehensive report. https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2021/07/13/microsoft-azure-space and on twitter at @helpnetsecurity. Much of the information comes from Microsoft Azure blogs referenced below.
For further reading (it’s quite interesting) you can read Microsofts official blurb and ongoing updates here.