Amazon Goes Big on Aerospace & Satellite Solutions

Today, June 30, 2020, Amazon announced a dedicated business team to focus on the aerospace and satellite sector.  A retired Air Force general will head up the AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions “business segment,” part of Amazon’s ongoing business building around space ventures.

Retired Air Force Major General Clint Crosier will lead the unit which is “already supporting customers around the world” using AWS Ground Station, according to a blog post discussing the announcement tied in with the AWS Public Sector Summit taking place this week online.  General Crosier’s previous posting was helping to stand up the U.S. Space Force.

“We find ourselves in the most exciting time in space since the Apollo missions,” said Maj. Gen. Crosier. “I have watched AWS transform the IT industry over the last 10 years and be instrumental in so many space milestones. I am honored to join AWS to continue to transform the industry and propel the space enterprise forward.”

AWS Ground Station, more fully described here, is a year-old service that combines Amazon’s suite of cloud services and connects with a network of ground stations to communicate with and download information from satellites. The AWS Ground Station service enables startups and established organizations to take advantage of Amazon’s data center services for one stop shopping in controlling satellites and processing the vast amounts of data coming from them.

A number of satellite Internet of Things (IoT) and earth observation companies have elected to use AWS for ease of use and the ability to store and process large amounts of data.  Earth observation company Maxar is adding more than 80 TB of imaging per day to its 110 plus petabyte library stored on Amazon while numerous synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are expecting to collect between 2 to 5 TB of raw data per day per satellite while building constellations numbering several dozen or more satellites.

Amazon is bullish on IT aerospace cloud prospects between the large number of IoT and imaging companies entering the market along with having one foot in federal government business, a large user of cloud. The Aerospace and Satellite Solutions business segment is expected to work with customers and partners around the world to “Reimagine space system architectures; Transform space enterprises; Launch new services that process space data on Earth and in orbit; and Provide secure, flexible, scalable, and cost-efficient cloud solutions to support government missions and companies advancing space around the world.”

One open question is how and if the AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions will have insight and interactions with Amazon’s Project Kuiper, the company’s low-key project to build a global satellite broadband network.  Industry analysts believe Amazon has the best possibility of actually building and operating a large constellation of broadband satellites without going bankrupt first given its deep pockets, bundling of broadband with ecommerce opportunities, potential internal uses, and established ability to sell into government and enterprise sectors.

Putting Aerospace and Satellite Solutions on the Amazon play card gives the company greater insights and options to work with established aerospace companies in the defense sector and for building government and enterprise turnkey solutions integrating Kuiper global broadband with its existing cloud portfolio.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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