Image taken by the ION Elysian Eleonara satellite in January 2022.
Amazons The cloud computing division has successfully launched the software suite on a satellite in orbit in a “first-of-its-kind” experiment, the company announced on Tuesday.
AWS, or Amazon Web Services, held a prototype satellite software demo in partnership with Italy’s D-Orbit and Sweden’s Unibap. The experiment has been conducted over the past 10 months in low Earth orbit using the D-Orbit satellite as a test platform.
The success of the AWS demonstration matters to the entire space industry as spacecraft – from space stations to satellites – face bottlenecks in both data storage and communications in orbit.
“Downlink”, the process of transmitting data from orbit, requires the spacecraft to be connected to a ground station, with restrictions such as the connection speed or the time window in which the spacecraft is above the ground station.
The AWS software automatically reviewed the images to decide which ones were most useful to send back to Earth. It also reduced the size of the images by up to 42%.
“We have demonstrated the ability to increase [satellite’s] performance,” AWS Vice President Max Peterson told CNBC.
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Peterson added that the experiment also showed that AWS could help companies do “analytics operations on the satellite, instead of waiting until you can communicate with the Earth.”
“We can train models to recognize just about anything… [giving] the opportunity to both improve the use of a truly expensive asset in space, and be able to collect huge amounts of data, get information and bring it to life faster,” said Peterson.
Since its inception in 2020, AWS has steadily grown its Aerospace & Satellite Solutions business by providing cloud services to a variety of customers and partners in the space sector.