Microsoft is this week debuting the Azure Orbital Space SDK to empower developers to create and deploy their own space solutions. According to the company, space development is one of the untapped areas of technology and there is much data to uncover. By opening its Azure Orbital platform the company says developers can leverage the power of Azure in their projects.
“The Azure Orbital Space SDK was created to be able to run on any spacecraft and provide a secure hosting platform and application kit to create, deploy, and operate applications on-orbit. This “host platform” runs onboard the spacecraft including a containerized, scalable compute infrastructure with resource and schedule management capabilities.”
Microsoft's kit provides templates, documentation, and samples to help developers create their projects. There are also template applications that offer more automation across common workloads. Microsoft is also including a “virtual test harness” to give developers a method for easily testing their apps.
In a blog post, Microsoft explains how Azure Orbital technology is transforming development in the remote sensing and communications industries:
- “Remote Sensing: Through the Azure Orbital Space SDK, developers can write and host more intelligent applications on-board satellites, meaning that they can capture data and use time more efficiently, and even autonomously reconfigure applications at the ultimate edge. Instead of building a unique solution each time developers deploy a spacecraft application, the Azure Orbital Space SDK creates a common template for performing imaging tasks, making it easier to transfer models and applications from one satellite configuration to another.
- Communications: By bringing applications and intelligent computing on board satellites through the Azure Orbital Space SDK, we enable a more sophisticated management of satellite communications – resulting in lower costs and higher efficiency for satellite-based communication networks. The SDK will provide a compute fabric with networking capabilities for hosting telecommunication workloads, allowing operators to move applications more easily from ground-based cell sites to satellites in orbit, enabling better resiliency and network utilization.”
Microsoft launched Azure Orbital Ground Station as-a-service in 2021. Azure Orbital runs off its own datacenter located in Quincy, Washington.
The company is also using its Azure Modular Datacenters as part of the Azure Space initiative. These are caravan-sized mobile datacenters for computing and storage that can deploy in remote locations.
Microsoft has shown how Azure Orbital Ground Stations as-a-Service (GSaaS) can provide life extensions and a reduction in operating costs.
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