General Crosier was responsible for aerospace and satellite services with the USAF and, during his 33 years of putting satellites into orbit, space planning and budgeting, he was also involved in the standup of the U.S. Space Force (USSF), the first new arm of the military in 72 years. He joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the Director, Aerospace and Satellite Solutions.
The General said, “It is exciting to see how the space industry is growing. I have become a true believe in what the cloud can do — Amazon saw, and continues to see, the incredible potential for the space industry. AWS noted the rapidly changing space environment, the amount of global investment and the new companies coming online. AWS determined the best way to support this industry was to build a team that possessed deep space experience to help companies overcome their greatest challenges in the cloud.”
Combined, he said, the AWS team has more than 440 years of experience in the space industry. “How can cloud computing help? The number of satellites on orbit will quintuple, 5x, across LEO, MEO and GEO. Looking at the sheer number of satellites, and with collision avoidance alone, there are enormous challenges in processing all of that data. With the cloud, a company can spin up all of this ephemeral analysis and they only pay for the minutes they consume. They won’t have to pay for that infrastructure all by themselves.”
He remarked that digital design is going to become more and more important. He noted that the USSF recently announced their intention to leverage that technology for satellite design, satellite testing as well as space modeling and simulation. “This kind of work can only be done successfully at scale and at a cost that’s affordable on the cloud using functions such as high performance compute time that is tailored specifically for those space related workloads, which the AWS teams can accomplish.” He added, “One of our customers, Boom Supersonic, is using the cloud to design a new, supersonic passenger transport. They have already consumed more than 53 million hours of compute time on AWS. That company has told AWS that it has been far cheaper and far faster with the cloud than they could have built on their own.”
General Crosier offered that instead of investing millions of dollars in limited capital into computer infrastructure, a smallsat company or other small space startup can, instead, put that money directly into a payload and payload operations which is, after all, what customers really care about… data, and the insights from that data.
“As satellites become more and more capable, and we have more and more of them in orbit, we will be bringing down — literally — tens and hundreds of petabytes of space data, he said. “That extraordinary volume of data can only be processed in the cloud. No single company could build, operate and sustain the massive data storage, analysis and processing capability necessary to handle a workload like that on their own… unless they are willing to spend billions of dollars on a global, industry-leading infrastructure, which AWS has already done. Why would anyone do that when you can pay a fraction of the cost by moving that workload into the cloud and then put that capital back into your satellite capabilities to exploit the data your customers want and your customers need.”
He then brought to the attendees’ attention AWS Ground Station, which is a fully managed service that allows users to control SATCOM, process their satellite data, scale their operations, all without having to worry about building or managing their own ground station infrastructure. “We have seen companies save between 60 and 80 percent of ground station infrastructure costs by using the AWS Ground Station. As a mater of fact, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one of our AWS Ground Station customers.”
“The Transporter-1 mission of a week or so ago, well, of the 143 satellites aboard that we launched into space, 115 of those satellites are operated by AWS customers around the globe, either using AWS Ground Station or AWS cloud tools, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Language (AI/ML), advanced analytics, data storage, distributed networking, high performance compute or dozens of other advanced cloud capabilities.
There can be no doubt that AWS is moving aggressively into the space sector.