Microsoft and SpaceX Form Orbital Internet Alliance
In addition to announcing the partnership, Microsoft also unveiled its Azure cloud computing service for space companies.
Microsoft has announced the launch of its Azure Space initiative, a cloud computing service designed to cater to aerospace companies, alongside a new partnership with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Under the new alliance, Microsoft said, SpaceX’s planned Starlink Internet service would be connected through Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing network. The arrangement will allow SpaceX to support its planned internet service without needing to build its own data centres in order to support it.
The announcement also saw Microsoft unveiling its new Azure Modular Datacentre (MDC), a field-transportable datacentre that will allow customers to set up Azure in remote locations.
SpaceX claimed in September that its Starlink service would have the capacity to deliver internet speeds upwards of 100 megabits per second – around the same internet speed as some satellite internet services currently provide, but slower than the average 128 megabits per second offered by wired internet providers. SpaceX has not yet stated how much it will charge for Starlink subscriptions.
Microsoft’s announcement comes four months after Amazon revealed that its Web Services branch was set to launch its own aerospace and satellite unit, with the aim of providing cloud computing and other services to various sub-sectors in the space industry.
In addition to forming the backbone of its Starlink project, Microsoft also plans to work with SpaceX on a contract with the US Space Development Agency, which is assisting the Pentagon in using space technology for military purposes. SpaceX has been contracted to develop a space system capable of detect and tracking, ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles.
Other companies that have signed up with Microsoft’s newly unveiled space business include KSAT, Viasat, Amergint, SES, KubOS, Kratos and US Electrodynamics.