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Boeing hires three giants to build its billion-dollar cloud

The billion-dollar competition to provide Boeing with cloud computing services is finished, and the winner is … a three-way split. Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft are all getting a share of the business, Boeing announced today.

In a LinkedIn post, Susan Doniz, Boeing’s chief information officer and senior VP for information technology and data analytics, called it a “multi-cloud partnership.”

“This represents a significant investment in the digital tools that will empower Boeing’s next 100 years,” she wrote. “These partnerships strengthen our ability to test a system — or an aircraft — hundreds of times using digital twin technology before it is deployed.”

Doniz said that becoming more cloud-centric will provide Boeing with “global scalability and elasticity without having to predict, procure, maintain and pay for on-premises servers.” Financial details relating to the multi-cloud partnership were not disclosed.

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Microsoft adds a new superposition to quantum team

Microsoft’s Azure Quantum cloud computing service will be adding a brand-new tool to its toolbox: Pasqal’s neutral-atom quantum processing system.

When the French company’s system becomes available later this year, it will provide a method for processing data that’s different from the other methods offered through Azure Quantum.

“Running algorithms on Pasqal’s neutral-atom hardware opens the door to unique capabilities no other quantum system offers,” Pasqal CEO and founder Georges-Olivier Reymond said in a news release.

Unlike the rigid one-or-zero approach of classical computing, quantum computing makes use of quantum bits, or qubits, that can essentially represent different states simultaneously until the results are read out.

Theoretically, the quantum approach should be able to solve certain types of problems, such as network optimization, much more quickly than the classical approach. The technology could open new frontiers in fields ranging from traffic planning to drug development to data encryption.

Azure Quantum — and other cloud-based services including Amazon Braket, IBM Quantum, D-Wave Leap and Google Quantum AI — are already experimenting with hybrid quantum algorithms and looking forward to the development of full-stack, general-purpose quantum computing systems.

The two main avenues for developing quantum hardware make use of superconducting circuits and ion traps. Pasqal takes a different approach, involving neutral atoms that are manipulated at room temperature with laser-powered optical “tweezers.”

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Amazon teams up with Brazil’s space agency

Amazon Web Services and the Brazilian Space Agency are joining forces to support long-term growth of the space industry in Latin America’s largest country.

The statement of strategic intent and cooperation, signed by AWS and the space agency (known in Portuguese as the Agência Espacial Brasileira, or AEB), follows similar agreements that Amazon has made with Greece and Singapore.

But Brazil is a higher-profile case: Last year, Brazilian space and defense officials announced that Virgin Orbit would conduct orbital launches from the country’s Alcântara Space Center. Brazil is also a participant in the International Space Station program, and it has signed onto NASA’s Artemis Accords for moon exploration.

“The Brazilian government is on the hook to help provide capability for Artemis,” Peter Marquez, AWS’ head of space policy, told me. “We would love to help in those traditional areas, but in addition to that, the journey of getting to the moon, as well as building up other capabilities in Brazil, presents the opportunity to further grow the Brazilian space community commercially.”

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Microsoft expands its cloud ecosystem in space

One year after Microsoft expanded its Azure cloud domain to the final frontier, the company is taking another giant leap in its campaign to build a digital ecosystem for the space community.

Today, Azure Space is lifting the curtain on a new array of space-centric offerings, including satellite imagery from Airbus, software-based communication links from ST Engineering iDirect and geospatial data analysis from Esri, Blackshark.ai and Orbital Insight.

Microsoft is also unveiling a couple of in-house tools to enhance satellite images.

Taken together, the enhancements should provide more possibilities for solving problems on our home planet, said Stephen Kitay, senior director of Azure Space.

“What we’re focused on is bringing the space community and cloud together,” Kitay told GeekWire. “Our purpose is to innovate faster, to help these companies innovate faster and democratize the benefits of space, because ultimately space is critical to life here on Earth.”

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How the cloud supports Satellogic’s whole Earth catalog

It’s one thing to send down more than a trillion bytes of satellite data every day, and quite another thing to turn all that data into a complete picture of our planet that’s updated daily.

For the first part of the task, Satellogic — a global company that’s headquartered in Uruguay — turns to a constellation of Earth observation satellites that’s expected to grow from its current 17 spacecraft to more than 300 by 2025.

To help with the processing part of the job, Satellogic turns to Amazon Web Services.

“We’ve built the future together, between Satellogic and AWS,” Clint Crosier, director of AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, told GeekWire. “We’ve enabled them to plan to their goal of being able to image every square kilometer of the Earth every single day.”

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Microsoft aims to boost cybersecurity in space

Microsoft is joining the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center as a founding member, with a mission to strengthen cybersecurity for critical space assets.

“As the first hyperscale cloud service provider to join this member organization, we will share our unique global threat insights to protect critical infrastructure and strengthen cybersecurity expertise in the space community,” Tom Keane, corporate vice president for Azure Global, said today in a blog posting.

Space ISAC was launched in 2019 as a channel for companies and research institutions to work with each other and with government agencies to safeguard space assets. The group’s founding members include space industry heavyweights such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SES and The Aerospace Corp. Boeing is a general member.

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To the moon! Amazon boosts space startups

The first 10 companies to participate in Amazon Web Services’ accelerator program for space-centric startups are targeting territory ranging from low Earth orbit to the surface of the moon and Mars.

Today’s announcement follows up on the unveiling of the AWS Space Accelerator in March. Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels said the 10 ventures were selected out of more than 190 proposals from 44 countries.

“These companies from the United States and Europe cover a wide range of space capabilities with impact here on Earth today, as well as on humanity’s approach to working and living in space in the future,” he wrote in a blog posting.

Over a four-week span, the companies will be provided with hands-on technical training in machine learning, high-performance computing and other tools of the cloud computing trade. They’ll hear from mentors about business development and investment, and they’ll receive $100,000 in AWS Activate credit for cloud services.

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Cloud titans reportedly battle for Boeing’s business

Amazon, Microsoft and Google are involved in a bidding process to provide Boeing with cloud computing services, a contract that’s expected to be worth at least $1 billion over several years, The Information reports.

Today’s report is attributed to four people with knowledge of the matter. We’ve reached out to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud as well as Boeing, but this is typically something such companies doesn’t talk about publicly during negotiations — as The Information found out. (For what it’s worth, Google Cloud sent us a “no comment” email.)

The Information says AWS considers the Boeing contract “a must-win deal.” Andy Jassy, who’s currently in charge of AWS’ cloud business and is due to take over as Amazon’s CEO on July 5, is reportedly directly involved in the process.

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Cloud computing speeds up Pentagon’s satellite data flow

How will Pentagon planners cope with the torrents of data that are expected to rain down from a constellation of satellites monitoring hotspots from low Earth orbit?

Microsoft and Ball Aerospace say they’ve demonstrated that the cloud can handle it — and not just handle it, but process multiple streams of satellite data five times faster than the Pentagon’s target speed.

The demonstration of a prototype system was conducted this year for the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit in support of the Commercially Augmented Space Inter Networked Operations Program Office, or CASINO, which is under the aegis of the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.

For the purposes of the test, Telesat provided access to its satellite network in low Earth orbit. Ball Aerospace provided the event-driven architecture for dealing with the data beamed down from space. And Microsoft Azure provided the cloud-computing firepower for processing the data and pulling out insights.

Telesat’s satellite sent down as many as 20 separate streams of simulated Overhead Persistent Infrared sensor readings, also known as OPIR. Such data streams could be crucial for detecting and countering missile threats — but processing the flood of data is no easy task.

“What this prototype did was prove out that low Earth orbit is a viable capability for the Space Force, working with the cloud. Against the program goals that the DIU set, the ground processing with space data is about five times faster with the Azure cloud,” Tom Keane, corporate vice president for Azure Global, told GeekWire.

“We think it’s a pretty big deal,” Keane said.

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Amazon launches accelerator for space startups

Amazon Web Services is raising the curtain on AWS Space Accelerator, a four-week business support program that’s open to space startups seeking to use Amazon’s cloud computing services.

AWS and Seraphim, a London-based investment group focusing on the space industry, will select 10 companies to participate in the accelerator program during the month of June. Applications are being accepted starting today, and proposals are due by April 21.

“Startups provide a catalyst for bold new experimentation in the space industry,” Clint Crosier, director of AWS’ aerospace and satellite solutions, said in a blog posting. “We are proud to announce the AWS Space Accelerator as part of our ongoing commitment to help startups succeed, and to shape the future of aerospace.”