Oct 20, 2020 - Science

Microsoft and SpaceX partner up to deliver broadband via Starlink satellites

The SpaceX complex
Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images

Microsoft is getting into the space game.

Why it matters: Huge amounts of data pour in from space to Earth each day, and the tech heavyweight sees an opportunity to capitalize on that big data and the growing markets for it.

Details: Microsoft announced today that the company is launching Azure Space to help its customers in a variety of industries and the government make use of space data through cloud computing and connectivity even in remote parts of Earth.

  • The company has penned a deal with SpaceX to deliver broadband via Starlink satellites to new Azure Modular Datacenters that can be used to connect to the internet from remote locales for disaster relief, agriculture and other uses.
  • Farmers "can now make use of space connectivity to be doing those decisions in the field," Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Azure Global, told me.
  • Azure is designed to be an "ecosystem" of partner satellites, ground stations and data centers that will make it more efficient to use data sent from space.

The big picture: Microsoft isn't the only company playing at the intersection of computing and space.

  • Amazon Web Services just launched a space-focused division of its business to help companies use their cloud and other services to efficiently do their work.

The bottom line: The space industry isn't just about what happens in orbit. Companies focused on data processing and usage on Earth are just as integral to the everyday work of satellite operators and data analyzers as the hardware in space.

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