Amazon Launches AWS Ground Station, an On Demand Satellite Connectivity Service

Back in September we found that Amazon was developing new space and satellite services for a “big, audacious space project.” We didn’t know what those new services would be exactly at the time, other than that Amazon wanted to build, “highly available, massively scalable, real time satellite data processing systems” for “thousands of commercial and government customers.”

Today, we know what at least part of AWS’s space ambitions include. Amazon just announced the launch of AWS Ground Station, “a fully managed service that lets you control satellite communications, downlink and process satellite data, and scale your satellite operations quickly, easily and cost-effectively without having to worry about building or managing your own ground station infrastructure.”

Using AWS Ground Station, customers can download data from satellites using AWS’s managed network of 12 ground station antennas located around the world. Customers can schedule antenna access time in the AWS Management Console. Once the data is down, it can then be processed in an EC2 instance or stored in S3.

“Satellite data is incredibly useful for building a wide range of important applications, but it is super complex and expensive to build and operate the infrastructure needed to do so. A few years back our customers asked us if we could remove that cost and complexity, and the more we thought about it, the more we realized that AWS with its global footprint was uniquely positioned to solve this challenge,” said Charlie Bell, Senior Vice President of AWS. “Today, we are giving satellite customers the ability to dynamically scale their ground station antenna use based on actual need. And, they will be able to ingest data straight into AWS, where they can securely store, analyze, and transmit products to their customers without needing to worry about building all of the infrastructure themselves.”

AWS says initial customers include DigitalGlobe, BlackSky, and Spire Global.

In addition, AWS and Lockheed Martin today announced a “strategic collaboration” to integrate AWS Ground Station with Lockheed Martin’s Verge antenna network.

Amazon says that through the integration, “Customers using AWS Ground Station gain the ability to download data from multiple satellites at the same time and to continue downloading data even when unplanned outages like a weather event impact parts of the network… Immediate and continuous access to the latest satellite data is critical in use cases such as public safety, military missions in fast-evolving threat environments, and real-time weather observations for cargo ships and airlines. Today, there are thousands of satellites orbiting the earth and collecting data, including Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, which are ideal for collecting data for Earth observation and currently comprise about 63 percent of the active satellites now in orbit, according to United Nations data.”

We’ll continue tracking Amazon’s space and satellite efforts.