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Microsoft Teams Up With SpaceX


Image via SpaceX on Unsplash

It wasn't even a month ago when we wrote about Microsoft's announcement that it would venture outside of Earth to outer space in pursuit of the next big cloud computing opportunity.


Microsoft introduced Azure Orbital, which enables satellite operators to communicate with and control their satellites, process data and scale operations within Microsoft Azure. The launch of Azure Orbital puts Microsoft in direct competition with Amazon's AWS Ground Station, which offers similar capabilities and was launched nearly two years ago.


Microsoft expanded on its space initiative yesterday with the launch of Azure Space while also announcing a partnership with Elon Musk's SpaceX. Through the partnership with SpaceX, Microsoft will connect its Azure Orbital to SpaceX's Starlink satellites to provide high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband for the Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC).


The MDC is built for customers who work in remote areas that may not have reliable power or infrastructure and need cloud computing capabilities. The two companies have been testing the software to link the two services together over the last few months.


"We have brought together a team of renowned space industry veterans to work alongside our world-class product engineers and scientists to build cloud capabilities that meet the unique needs of space," Azure Global Corporate Vice President Tom Keane wrote in a blog post. "Our innovation areas include simulating space missions, discovering insights from satellite data, and fueling innovation both on the ground and in orbit."


As for the MDC, Microsoft says they are "in early use with defense and private sector organizations." Microsoft says the product could be ideal for areas such as military needs, humanitarian efforts, mobile command centers and mining.


"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," SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said.


With Microsoft and Amazon now conducting their own space race and the sector getting more attention as of late, yesterday may have been a warning sign as Virgin Galactic gave up its gains after well-known short seller Jim Chanos had to clarify that he was joking about talking "positively" about space-related stocks.


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