From the cloud to space: AWS launches aerospace and satellite business unit

The cloud computing giant sees the opportunity for growth as public and private entities launch new space-based missions.

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Amazon Web Services on Tuesday announced it's establishing a new business unit dedicated to the global aerospace and satellite industry. The new business segment could open up new sources of revenue for the cloud computing giant as organizations in the public and private sectors launch more space-based missions. 

The new segment will be led by retired Air Force Major General Clint Crosier, who led the US Defense Department's efforts to create the US Space Force, the newest branch of the US Armed Forces. Along with providing cloud services, Amazon said the new business unit will help organizations build out space system architectures and launch new services that process space data on Earth and in orbit. 

"We find ourselves in the most exciting time in space since the Apollo missions," Crosier said in a statement. "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."

In addition to creating the Space Force, the US has taken other recent steps underscoring its commitment to space-based missions, such as partnering with the private firm SpaceX for the launch of the first US-manned spaceflight in nine years. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration has forged partnerships with other private entities as well, such as Virgin Galactic. Amazon on Tuesday specifically cited Project Artemis -- the NASA project aimed at landing "the first woman and the next man" on the Moon by 2024 -- as evidence of NASA's commitment to "developing a sustainable commercial space economy."

Meanwhile, as AWS noted, a number of companies are poised to launch "thousands of new satellites over the next five years to provide sensing capabilities to customers around the world." The use cases include providing low-latency internet, Earth observation services, and IoT services. 

Amazon has already established a foothold in the sector and counts entities like NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Geollect, which provides geospatial maritime intelligence, among its customers. On Tuesday, it announced Capella Space, which provides on-demand Earth observation data via satellite-based radar, is running its entire IT infrastructure on AWS. 

Two years ago, AWS launched Ground Station, a fully-managed service that provides satellite owners and operators global access to their space workloads. The service is used by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), among other customers.

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