Azure Orbital Space unveils software tools for space applications


SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft announced a private preview of a new product, the Azure Orbital Space Software Development Kit (SDK), on Nov. 17.

With the spacecraft-agnostic SDK, Azure Orbital intends to enable developers to easily build space-related applications in the cloud and deploy them on spacecraft operated by Azure Orbital partners, said Stephen Kitay, Senior Director of Azure Space. SpaceNews.

“Microsoft’s vision is to lower the barrier to entry for space developers and reduce the need for custom solutions,” Kitay said.

The development of space applications is a highly specialized field. The lack of standards makes it difficult and time-consuming to write apps and reuse code between satellites and missions, Kitay said.

Computers in orbit are getting better and better. Yet demands for fast data processing are increasing as Earth observation, communications and space awareness missions turn to artificial intelligence and machine learning to speed up operations and increase autonomy. spacecraft.

Instead of launching its own satellites, Azure Orbital has created a smart hosting platform, software, that runs on spacecraft operated by its partners Ball Aerospace, Loft Orbital, Thales Alenia Space and Xplore.

The hosting platform is designed to help applications communicate with spacecraft hardware in a secure way, which means developers can test code in space.

Xplore is the latest addition to the Azure orbital ecosystem. The Redmond, Wash.-based startup is preparing to launch an Earth observation satellite to collect hyperspectral data and high-resolution video imagery.

Applying these images and data to a task such as fire detection in remote areas requires significant on-board processing. It would take too long to transmit terabytes of data and images to the ground for processing, Kitay said.

“We take the processing to the periphery to then notify, tip and signal,” Kitay said. “We’re providing a whole new set of tools for developers building apps for these different vertical missions across different companies.”

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