Thales Alenia Space will test “edge computing” with Microsoft on board the International Space Station

On Monday April 4, Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to explore the implementation of new capabilities in Space Edge Computing (SEC), artificial intelligence space observation tools (DeeperVision) and the digital ground segment. To this end, the two companies will demonstrate and validate the technologies and computing capabilities in orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023..

Thales Alenia Space architects design and supply high-tech solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructure. They have also built modules for the International Space Station.

Just a year ago, on April 6, 2021, Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft announced their decision to jointly innovate in the field of satellite cloud technologies, by adding the DeeperVision automated image processing solution, developed by Thales Alenia Space. , to Microsoft’s Azure Orbital platform. This partnership has combined DeeperVision’s capabilities to process data streams and generate timely insights with Azure Orbital’s cloud capabilities. Insights are powered by high-speed, high-volume artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Demonstrate the benefits of Space Edge Computing

This new collaboration aims to provide advanced connectivity, analytics and computations in space through Space Edge Computing. In 2023, companies will demonstrate and validate in-orbit computing technologies and capabilities aboard the ISS. Thales Alenia Space will deploy a powerful in-orbit computer, an in-orbit application framework and high-performance Earth observation sensors to develop new in-orbit climate data processing applications for the benefit of the sustainability of our planet.

Researchers from Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft Research will engage in remote sensing, computer vision and climate science to demonstrate the potential of next-generation in-orbit computing for Earth observation. With this computing capability at the edge of space, Earth observation information will be transmitted directly and immediately applicable for monitoring, understanding and protecting our planet.

The Space Edge Computing demonstration aboard the ISS

Thales Alenia Space will deploy a hardened edge computing payload for space, running Azure on board the International Space Station. Thales Alenia Space in Spain will be responsible for developing and delivering the payload to the ISS, while Microsoft will be responsible for the in-orbit software framework and space software development kit (SDK). The in-orbit test bed will include onboard computing hardware developed by Thales Alenia Space in Spain as well as data collection sensor systems. This demonstration will allow application developers to easily develop and deploy Earth observation data processing applications on a real working environment, at the crossroads of the space and cloud worlds.

Democratize space observation

Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft want to democratize space observation by bringing to market accessible AI space observation tools (such as DeeperVision) for developers. In addition, the two companies want to accelerate the deployment of ground stations and increase the range of connectivity. To this end, they will develop and bring to market a joint managed service proposition to provide ground station virtualization and the “as-a-service” model.

Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space, said:

“Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft are pushing their vision of a seamless world between space and digital even further by soon demonstrating the benefits of space edge computing for their customers. Thales Alenia Space is particularly proud to be at the forefront of innovation by combining its expertise with a benchmark partner like Microsoft to unlock new markets, including the processing of climate data in orbit to better protect our planet. The Global Memorandum of Understanding strengthens our relationship with Microsoft as we move into the digital space. »

Tom Keane, Corporate Vice President, Mission Engineering at Microsoft added:

“After our initial collaboration to integrate DeeperVision software into Azure Space, we are taking the next step with Thales Alenia Space by demonstrating in-orbit computing running on the Microsoft Cloud. This offers immediate practical applications for climate change research and opens the door to opportunities that extend far beyond space. »

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Thales Alenia Space will test “edge computing” with Microsoft on board the International Space Station

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