Microsoft partners with Starlink for its Azure Space cloud

Yolanda Curtis
October 23, 2020

Currently, this region only supports Azure workloads but will add support for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform over the course of the next few months. The MDC solves this by bringing Azure to these environments, providing datacenter scale compute resources closest to where they're needed.

New partnerships with SpaceX Starlink and others will enable Microsoft to provide high-speed internet via satellite to new Azure Modular Datacenters, essentially self-contained cloud computing units about the size of shipping containers. Microsoft described them as being "in early use with defense and private sector organizations". The offering follows Microsoft's launch of Azure Orbital, the company's ground-stations-as-a-service program, in September 2020. Microsoft had described Azure Orbital and its partner collaborations during its September Ignite event. Partnerships with other companies are also a big piece of AWS' space strategy with Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies and Iridium Communications among the most notable.

Azure Orbital, now at the preview stage, is created to receive data from low-earth orbit or medium-earth orbit satellites, such as pulling down satellite imagery.

“Microsoft” intends to provide services for the “Azure” cloud computing platform

"By partnering with leaders in the space community, we will extend the utility of our Azure capabilities with worldwide satellite connectivity, unblock Cloud computing in more scenarios, and empower our partners and customers to achieve more".

Essentially, Microsoft intends to provide cloud capabilities that will meet the space needs of governments and industry.

The company said it is now working to provide a "AzureSpace" platform that aims "to meet the needs of the space community" and aims to "make space a connected field".

Microsoft's partnership with SpaceX Starlink will provide high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband for the new Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC).

Additionally, Microsoft has developed an Azure Orbital Emulator solution that will make it easier for satellite producers to design their products. Imagery from satellites helps determine crop stress, predict yields, and enable the adoption of sustainable agriculture. Azure Orbital Emulator is now in use by some Azure Government subscribers.

Microsoft also plans to launch Azure Orbital Emulator to help manage satellite networking.

Additionally, the U.S. Space Force has the potential to leverage Azure Space, since Microsoft now supports the U.S. Air Force's Commercially Augmented Space Inter Networked Operations (CASINO) project.

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