Tech Venture Fund 1

D-Ordit partners with Amazon for a ‘first-of-its kind’ experiment.

Amazon successfully runs AWS compute and machine learning services on D-Orbit satellite.

Dec 13, 2022

D-Orbit is a market leader in the space logistics and transportation services industry. As one of the first companies to address the logistics needs of the space market, it was natural that D-Orbit found itself becoming one of Amazon's global space partners.

AWS, or Amazon Web Services, conducted the prototype satellite software demonstration through partnerships with D-Orbit and Swedish venture Unibap. The experiment was conducted over the past 10 months in low Earth orbit, using a D-Orbit satellite as the test platform.

The success of the AWS demo has implications across the space industry, as spacecraft – meaning anything from space stations to satellites – face a bottleneck in both data storage and communications while in orbit.

A “downlink,” the process of transferring data from orbit, requires a spacecraft connect to a ground station, with limitations such as the speed of the connection, or the time window in which the spacecraft is above the ground station.

AWS’ software automatically reviewed images to decide which were the most useful to send to the ground. By applying AWS compute and machine learning services to Earth Observation (EO) imagery, D-Orbit was able to rapidly analyze large quantities of space data directly onboard its orbiting ION satellite.

Providing AWS edge capabilities onboard an orbiting satellite for the first time lets customers automatically analyze massive volumes of raw satellite data in orbit and only downlink the most useful images for storage and further analysis, driving down cost and enabling timely decision making.

“Using AWS software to perform real-time data analysis onboard an orbiting satellite, and delivering that analysis directly to decision makers via the cloud, is a definite shift in existing approaches to space data management. It also helps push the boundaries of what we believe is possible for satellite operations,” said Max Peterson, AWS vice president, worldwide public sector. “Providing powerful and secure cloud capability in space gives satellite operators the ability to communicate more efficiently with their spacecraft and deliver updated commands using AWS tools they’re familiar with.”

The company plans to increase to as many as 12 launches by 2023, and customers will be able to select from numerous launch windows. “That means we are able to offer our customers the opportunity to choose their best launch date,” says Sergio Mucciarelli, head of software solutions for D-Orbit. “This flexibility provides important added value.”

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