Azure Orbital Ground Station as Service extends lifespan and reduces cost of…


How can Microsoft enable satellite operators to focus on their mission and continue operating their satellites without making capital investments in their ground infrastructure?

To answer this question, Microsoft worked alongside that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and our partner Discoverto demonstrate how the commercial cloud can provide satellite mission management for NOAA’s legacy polar satellites (NOAA-18), thereby extending the mission duration of these satellites while reducing operational costs Azure Orbital Ground Station as a Service (GSaaS).

Partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Xplore

The initiative was part of a year-long collaborative research and development agreement (CRADA) with NOAA in which we worked together to determine the capability of the Azure Orbital platform for connecting and downlinking data from NOAA satellites. NOAA also tested Microsoft Azure’s ability to quickly and effectively meet certain security controls. Our cloud-based solutions performed successfully in all measures.

Partners are central to Microsoft’s approach to space and they played a key role in this project. As part of CRADA, we leveraged our partner ecosystem to bring Azure Orbital together with Xplore’s Major Tom Mission Control software platform. This approach allowed NOAA to send commands to the NOAA-18 spacecraft and verify receipt of those commands. This test was conducted in real time and data flowed bi-directionally with the NOAA-18 satellite.

Commercial technology allowed for the rapid demonstration of these innovative capabilities. Xplore was able to move quickly to bring features of NOAA’s traditional space systems architecture to the Azure cloud via their major tom platform. This underscores the power of Azure as a platform to bring together Azure Orbital as the ground station, Major Tom to provide the mission control software for guidance and telemetry display, and NOAA operators to monitor the scenarios.

This successful demonstration demonstrates that Azure Orbital GSaaS and its associated ecosystem of partners enable sustainable outcomes for satellite operators. Our work with NOAA is just the beginning of the journey. We look forward to partnering with more satellite operators to help them reduce infrastructure management costs, reduce latency, increase capacity and resiliency, and achieve their missions through the power of Azure Orbital GSaaS and the Azure cloud to strengthen.

Learn more about Azure Orbital and Azure Space

To learn more about Azure Orbital GSaaS, visit our product pageor take a look at those Session with Microsoft Mechanics, which goes into more detail on how we connect space satellites around the world and bring Earth observation data to Azure for analysis via Microsoft and partner ground stations. We show how it works and how it fits into Microsoft’s strategy with Azure Space to bring cloud connectivity anywhere on Earth and make space satellite data accessible for everyday use cases.

More broadly, Azure Space marks the convergence between global satellite constellations and the cloud. When the two join forces, our goal is to bring cloud connectivity to even the farthest corners of the earth, connecting to satellites and harnessing the vast amount of data being collected from space. This can help solve both long-term trending problems affecting the Earth, such as climate change, and real-time, short-term problems such as connected farming, monitoring and controlling wildfires, or identifying bottlenecks in the supply chain.

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