Amazon Just Made a Big Bet on Space. Here’s How 12 Radio Antennas on Earth Fit In
Amazon is pushing into space.
Amazon’s AWS cloud computing business plans to operate 12 radio antennas on Earth to serve as way stations for satellite data.
The antennas are part of Ground Station, a new all-in-one package for corporate customers that also includes cloud storage and data processing using Amazon’s data-crunching tools.
Amazon said on Tuesday that it is partnering on the initiative with Lockheed Martin, which has a similar satellite antenna service called Verge. Customers of both companies will presumably be able to use the two services in tandem.
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“Together, AWS and Lockheed Martin are providing satellite operators increased flexibility, resiliency, and scale,” Lockheed Martin Space executive vice president Rick Ambrose said in a statement.
The new satellite data service highlights how companies are trying to capitalize on a growing number of satellites and the increased amount of data they are collecting, as executives from companies like Virgin Orbit described at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference this year. Leaders of these companies hope to use machine-learning technology to analyze the influx of satellite imagery that is collected for data-intensive work like predicting the weather and analyzing crop yields.
It also highlights the importance of space to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also founded Blue Origin, a company that builds rockets. That company plans to send people to space in 2019.
It’s unclear when Ground Station will be available, where the 12 ground stations are planned or if they’re already operational. Fortune contacted Amazon for more information and will update this story if it responds.
Update: Thursday, 8:35 PM PST
AWS spokesperson said “In our Preview for AWS Ground Station, we have made a pair of ground stations available in US AWS Regions, and plan to have 12 in operation in AWS Regions around the world by mid-2019.” Preview versions of services typically don’t contain the finalized set of features when they officially go on sale. The spokesperson did not say where the regions are located.