Amazon Web Services establishes space-focused business unit

Science

WASHINGTON — Amazon Web Services is increasing its effort to sell cloud services to the space industry through the formation of a dedicated business segment called “Aerospace and Satellite Solutions.” 

“AWS is committed to supporting our customers’ missions, even those outside the Earth’s atmosphere,” Teresa Carlson, vice president of worldwide public sector at AWS, said during a virtual summit June 30. “The Earth and space-based systems that we build now will inform nearly every decision we make in the years to come. We want to bring all those AWS tools to bear to help our customers succeed in space.”

Clint Crosier, a retired Air Force Major General who helped establish and provided early guidance to the U.S. Space Force, will lead the division, AWS said. 

AWS counts Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, synthetic aperture radar startup Capella Space and geospatial intelligence and analysis company Geollect as customers for its cloud services. The Aerospace and Satellite Solutions business builds off AWS Ground Station, a related AWS business unveiled in 2018 focused on providing communications services to satellites using a network of ground antennas. 

AWS said its cloud services can support remote mission operations, secure satellite connectivity, image processing, edge computing and other applications for space customers. 

AWS’s push into the space sector may result in increased competition with rival Microsoft, whose Azure cloud business already gained satellite operators Intelsat, Inmarsat, SES and Viasat as customers. 

Microsoft Azure bested AWS last year for the Pentagon’s flagship Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud services contract, worth up to $10 billion. AWS is contesting the sole-source award. 

Amazon has been steadily increasing its presence in the space industry in recent years, most notably through Project Kuiper, an initiative to provide high-speed broadband through a constellation of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also owns the separate space launch company Blue Origin, which launches the suborbital New Shepard rocket and is preparing to launch the orbital New Glenn rocket in 2021.  

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