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Microsoft takes cloud battle to space with SpaceX satellites

Partnership with SpaceX will help Microsoft expand its Azure cloud network

Microsoft has partnered with billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX to connect its Azure cloud networking with the latter’s lower Earth orbiting (LEO) Starlink satellites, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The partnership will allow Microsoft to expand its cloud-based networking services in space, giving it a competitive edge over its rival Amazon.

This partnership comes after Microsoft launched its new service Azure Orbital, connecting satellites directly to the cloud. Orbital is a scheduling service connected with Azure which helps in faster data processing and scaling for faster downlinking of data.

Microsoft has been testing its Azure cloud with space satellites, intending to meet the ever-increasing space heavy services. The partnership with SpaceX will help Microsoft improve disaster prediction and tracking. It will also give the company many economic benefits due to the increased visibility of the supply chain, demand concentration and other economic activities. For SpaceX, this partnership will take it a step closer to its ambitious plan of an interconnected space network with a mega constellation of thousands of satellites called Starlink.

“The collaboration that we’re announcing today will allow us to work together to deliver new offerings for both the public and the private sector to deliver connectivity through Starlink for use on Azure. Where it makes sense, we will work with you, co-selling to our mutual customers, co-selling to new enterprise and future customers.”, said Gwynne Shotwell, COO and President of SpaceX.

SpaceX and Microsoft, in the past few months, have been researching the software to connect the network of Starlink to the data centres of Microsoft, including its “Azure Modular Data Centre”, which is the size of a mini trailer. This will enable people in remote and hybrid areas, to access cloud services efficiently.

In fact, Microsoft has said that many organizations in the private sector are already using its data centres. The data centres are also being used in the defence sector to fulfil the military needs and other humanitarian efforts.

Microsoft Azure Orbital had also partnered with SES, a Luxembourg based satellite telecommunication network provider.

SpaceX’s Starlink is a satellite internet constellation which aims at providing high-speed broadband data to the most remote places where access has been expensive, unreliable or completely unavailable. Starlink is targeting to enable access to its broadband data in California and Canada in 2020 and global coverage by the year 2021. Musk hopes to generate enough revenue from Starlink to fund the development of his Mars rocket dubbed Starship.

SpaceX had previously entered into a contract with the Pentagon to make missile-tracking satellites and provide encrypted internet services to several military planes. These missiles will be built in a plant in Redmond, Washington, the same plant in which SpaceX will build its satellites for Starlink.

Read: WireX – October Issue

Muskan Bagrecha
Muskan is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor's in Technology. With a zealous spirit for writing, she finds herself open to the vast realm of learning. She is an avid programmer with a keen interest in technology and science.


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