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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.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

The coming land rush in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Space is the new Wild West. Nations and space companies are racing to come to a consensus on what they can own, mine and take possession of in outer space before competitors stake ground first.

Why it matters: Private companies are building their businesses on sending spacecraft to the Moon, asteroids and other objects in the coming years to eventually extract resources that will be used or sold.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

Axiom announces the crew for its first private ISS mission

Earth from space. Photo: NASA

An American entrepreneur, Canadian investor and Israeli investor, along with a former NASA astronaut, are set to make up the first fully private mission to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The flight — expected to launch in January 2022 — represents part of NASA's bid to create an economy in low-Earth orbit supported by private companies.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.