Microsoft Azure Orbital connects satellites to the cloud

The service will begin in a “private preview” for a select group of Microsoft customers.

Microsoft has unveiled Azure Orbital, a service to help customers move data from satellites directly into the Azure cloud for processing and storage. The announcement marks the latest chapter in the competition between Microsoft and Amazon to connect satellite communications networks with cloud infrastructure.

Azure Orbital is a Ground Station As-a-Service that provide communication and control of your satellite. Orbital enable easy and integrated data processing and scale for your operations directly from Azure. Leveraging familiar Azure services to process and store your data at scale.

“Essentially, we’re building a ‘ground station as a service,’ ” CEO Satya Nadella said during the Microsoft Ignite 2020 conference.

“Satellites are becoming more and more important for a variety of reasons,. When it comes to cloud and data processing, obviously the cloud is a key part of any solution that goes into leveraging satellites, whether it’s imaging for weather, or natural disasters or ground communications.”

“With Azure Orbital, we’re taking our infrastructure to space, enabling anyone to access satellite data and capabilities from Azure,”

Azure Orbital “is an integrated and native service for customers and partners to down-link data without building or managing their own satellite ground station infrastructure. Users can easily deploy and host 3rd party antennas and equipment in Azure regions to enable scenarios across broadband connectivity and data processing

The Federal Communications Commission awarded Microsoft an experimental license in early September to download data from Urthecast’s Deimos-2 Earth observation satellite.

Azure Orbital will co-locate Microsoft ground stations in their datacenters or in close proximity. In addition, Azure Orbital will enable customers to use partner ground stations to ingest data in Azure using those ground stations.

Orbital can be used to schedule Contacts with Non-Geostationary Earth Orbit satellites (NGSO) which include Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) Satellites.

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