Dec 15, 2020 - Science

Amazon's AWS partners with space companies to streamline data collection


Photo: NASA

Amazon Web Services' new space division — started this summer — is now working to reduce earthly limits on the collection and use of space data.

Why it matters: Commanding a satellite to point to a specific spot on Earth, collecting the desired data and then beaming the information back through a ground station to customers can take 24 hours or more. That kind of delay can make the data outdated and in some cases unusable.

  • "When you think of space, speed and innovation should be at the forefront of that at all times," Teresa Carlson, AWS vice president, told Axios.

How it works: AWS' Aerospace and Satellite Solutions division is now working with space companies to streamline their businesses and make data collection, distribution and analysis more efficient.

  • There has been high interest in AWS' services from potential customers since the new unit launched, according to Carlson.

For example: Capella Space — a private company operating satellites that take radar images of the Earth — is working with AWS to help reduce the time it takes for the company to get data into the hands of their customers.

  • Instead of 24 hours from tasking to distribution, the company hopes to reduce that to around 20–30 minutes, Payam Banazadeh, Capella's CEO, told Axios.
  • AWS operates multiple ground stations, with plans to open more, allowing satellites like Capella's more opportunities to downlink information and making it easier and faster to send images and other data back to Earth.
  • The company is also making use of cloud computing through AWS to help streamline data analysis for its customers.

Yes, but: AWS isn't alone in its courting of space companies that might want to move fast by using the cloud and other tools.

  • Microsoft's Azure Space is also working with space companies on computing, potentially pulling business from AWS.
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