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Microsoft launches into space

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Microsoft has taken its next giant leap in cloud computing – taking its Azure data centre business into space. Azure Space will comprise a new set of offerings, a partner ecosystem, and a global strategy focused on innovation.  

Partnerships with leading satellite communications providers SpaceX and SES promise an integrated cloud and satellite connectivity experience anywhere in the world. New Azure product innovations include Azure Modular Datacenter, Azure Orbital Emulator, and Azure Orbital, to support high-intensity and secure cloud computing.

Microsoft’s space leadership team will include industry leaders like William Chappell, formerly of DARPA, and Chirag Parikh, former White House director of space policy on the National Security Council.

“The space community is growing rapidly and innovation is lowering the barriers of access for public- and private-sector organisations,” said Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Azure Global, writing in the Microsoft Blog yesterday. “With Azure Space we have ambition to make space connectivity and compute increasingly attainable across industries including agriculture, energy, telecommunications, and government.”

Keane said innovation areas would include simulating space missions, discovering insights from satellite data, and fueling 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.” 

Keane provided the following additional background: 

“As the importance of data to society has increased, so too has the importance of reliable and diverse pathways for connectivity. Our global network of over 160,000 miles of subsea, terrestrial, and metro optical fiber helps billions of people connect all around the world.  However, many of our customers also operate in remote, rugged environments and find it hard to keep pace with their increased need for access to data and bandwidth.

  • “Our new partnership with SpaceX Starlink will provide high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband for the new Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC);
  • “Building on our existing Azure Orbital partnership with SES, we will support its O3B Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation O3b MEO,  to extend connectivity between our cloud datacenter regions and cloud edge devices.”

For more information, read Tom Keane’s blog post here: https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/10/20/azure-space-cloud-powered-innovation-on-and-off-the-planet/

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