Amazon Web Services today unveiled a new business unit devoted to developing data infrastructure and cloud services for the aerospace and satellite industry — and headed by someone who helped set up the U.S. Space Force.
The Aerospace and Satellite Solutions business segment will be headed by retired Air Force Major Gen. Clint Crosier, former director of Space Force Planning.
“We find ourselves in the most exciting time in space since the Apollo missions,” Crosier said in today’s announcement from Amazon. “I have watched AWS transform the IT industry over the last 10 years and be instrumental in so many space milestones. I am honored to join AWS to continue to transform the industry and propel the space enterprise forward.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today took the wraps off Azure Quantum, a full-stack, cloud-based approach to quantum computing that he said would play well with traditional computational architectures.
“With all the capacity we have around computing, we still have many unsolved problems, whether it’s around food safety, or climate change, or the energy transition,” Nadella said at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Fla. “These are big challenges that need more computing. We need general-purpose quantum.”
While classical computers deal in binary bits of ones and zeroes, quantum computers can take advantage of spooky physics to process quantum bits — or qubits — that can represent multiple values simultaneously.
For years, Microsoft and its rivals have been laying the groundwork for general-purpose quantum computing hardware and software. Microsoft has previously announced some elements of its strategy, including its Q# programming language and Quantum Development Kit, but today Nadella put all the pieces together.
Six months after a sneak preview, Amazon Web Services has just raised the curtain on AWS Ground Station, its cloud-based system for controlling satellites and downloading satellite data.
AWS says the service is now generally available, with two ground station installations already hooked into the system and 10 more due to be added later this year.
The software platform makes it easy to connect with satellites, upload commands and bring the data down into AWS Global Infrastructure Regions. From there, the data can make its way through AWS’ ecosystem for storage, analytics and machine learning services — or go wherever a user wants to take it.
The satellite constellation, known as SpaceBelt, is scheduled to go into operation in late 2021. It’s designed to give customers a secure place in space to park sensitive data, accessible only through Cloud Constellation’s telecommunications links.
“It’s basically the cloud transformation of space,” chief commercial officer Dennis Gatens told GeekWire in advance of today’s announcement.
The SpaceBelt concept calls for putting 10 satellites in equatorial low Earth orbit (or LEO), at an altitude of about 400 miles (650 to 700 kilometers), with third-party satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) providing the connections to Cloud Constellation’s proprietary data terminals on the ground. Such a system combines the accessibility of GEO satellites with the low cost of LEO satellites.
Is the final frontier the next frontier for cloud computing?
One of the presentations planned for Amazon’s re:MARS conference in June suggests that Lockheed Martin is putting serious thought into the idea of space-based cloud services. The presentation, titled “Solving Earth’s Biggest Problems With a Cloud in Space,” features Yvonne Hodge, vice president and chief information officer at Lockheed Martin Space.
It’s also worth noting that Amazon unveiled plans this month for a 3,236-satellite constellation, code-named Project Kuiper, which would make broadband internet access available to the estimated 4 billion people around the world who are currently underserved.
Extending cloud networks into space would provide yet another boost for global commerce, and potentially for global welfare as well.
President Donald Trump today signed a long-awaited executive order aimed at beefing up cybersecurity at federal government agencies – with a shift of computer capabilities to the cloud as a key part of the strategy.
“We’ve got to move to the cloud and try to protect ourselves instead of fracturing our security posture,” Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters during a White House briefing.
The executive order gives the lead role in managing the cloud shift to the director of the White House’s newly established American Technology Council, which is due to meet for the first time next month.
Although the council’s full roster of members has not yet been announced, the director is said to be Chris Liddell, who formerly served as chief financial officer at Microsoft and General Motors.
When one of NASA’s top geeks talks to the cloud-computing geeks at Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent conference, you can bet the talk is not going to be just about outer space.
Tom Soderstrom, chief technology and innovation officer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, took pains during tonight’s talk in Las Vegas to point out how the space agency was taking advantage of the cloud.