Microsoft, SpaceX Have Jointly Launched the Azure Space Initiative

Microsoft and SpaceX jointly launched the Azure Space initiative with a vast array of new services.
Brad Bergan

Microsoft launched its Azure Space initiative on Tuesday — a set of products in the space- and satellite-adjacent connectivity and computing sectors of the cloud market — in partnership with SpaceX, according to a press release published on Microsoft's official blog.


Microsoft, SpaceX announce Azure Space initiative

Azure Space isn't a service exclusive to the space industry. It also offers private and public company customers in energy, government, agriculture, and telecommunications markets, reports ZDNet. Additionally, the initiative can assist any customer with needs relating to remote-access bandwidths.

The primary rival of Microsoft — AWS — announced its strategy for the space industry with a space unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, in June of 2020. The rival also created a satellite connection service — called AWS Ground Station — in addition to a satellite venture called Project Kuiper, which vyes with SpaceX's Starlink and other providers of satellite networking.

Microsoft claims it isn't interested in becoming a satellite provider, but will instead make moves through partnerships with satellite companies via its Azure Space initiatives.

Doubling-down on this message, Microsoft emphasized its partnership with Elon Musk's SpaceX as a marquee Azure Space partner. As of writing, SpaceX and Microsoft are working to provide satellite-enabled internet connectivity via Azure.

Microsoft Azure Data Center
The Azure Modular Datacenter comes with its own HVAC system. Source: Microsoft

Azure Space's Modular Datacenterruns on Stack Hub

The pair of tech superpowers will deliver the internet services via SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband on Microsoft's Azure Modular Datacenter. SpaceX recently launched 60 additional Starlink satellites bound for low-Earth orbital deployment in preparation for the public beta of its satellite-based broadband service.

Also announced today, the Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC) is literally Azure in a box (or shipping container) — called a "field-transportable solution," reports ZDNet. The MDC comes with its own HVAC system, including server racks, security, and networking capacities.

These capabilities aim to offer a robust option for clients to set up an Azure datacenter in remote locations. The MDC can run with or without connection, and at present runs Azure Stack Hub — but a Micorosft spokesperson indicated this might not always be the case, since MDC is a self-contained data center.

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Microsoft partnering with SES, Viasat, KSAT, and more

SpaceX and Microsoft also aim to offer connections between Starlink and Microsoft's global network — including at-edge computing devices. These aim to integrate Azure's networking capacities with SpaceX's ground stations — allowing customers access to a wide range of Microsoft services, from visualization to machine learning, to productivity features.

Other partners participating in Microsoft's Azure Space initiative include KSAT, Kratos, satellite operator SES, Viasat, Amerigint, KubOS, and US Electrodynamics. As Microsoft's partnership with SpaceX moves forward with Azure Space and its seemingly endless list of features, several industries feel like they have reached a "tipping point" of transformative advancement, thanks to SpaceX's forthcoming Starlink satellite constellation.

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