Microsoft recently announced the preview release of the Azure Orbital Space SDK to provide developers with a secure hosting platform and application toolkit designed to enable them to create, deploy, and operate applications on-orbit.
With the SDK, developers have access to templates, samples, and documentation to make it easy to get up and running with template applications for common workload patterns, such as earth observation image processing. In addition, a “virtual test harness” allows developers to quickly test their applications on the ground against an instance of the host platform.
Furthermore, the blog post explains that developers can leverage the SDK to write and host more intelligent applications on-board satellite capturing data, use time more efficiently, and even autonomously reconfigure applications. The SDK provides a standard template for completing imaging activities, making it simpler to transfer models and applications from one satellite configuration to another – preventing developers from writing a new solution each time they launch a spacecraft application.
In addition, the SDK also enables more sophisticated management of satellite communications – by providing a compute fabric with networking capabilities for hosting telecommunication workloads. Operators can migrate applications more quickly from on-ground cell sites to satellites in space, providing higher resiliency and network utilization.
Steven Kitay, a senior director at Microsoft Azure Space, told InfoQ:
At Microsoft, we are on a mission to combine the power of the cloud with the possibilities of space, and the SDK is the latest way to turn those possibilities into realities. The Azure Orbital Space SDK makes it easier for space developers to create secure applications that run on spacecraft. They can build applications to task, acquire, and process imagery and downlink it from satellites to ground stations. This approach has many benefits for developers and satellite operators alike, including saving time since the data is captured at the edge, allowing for reconfigurability, and providing satellite interoperability and scale.
Earlier in April, Microsoft launched the Azure Space Partner Community and disclosed its first space community partners, including Loft Orbital, Ball Aerospace, and Thales Alenia Space. With the SDK preview release, the company adds Xplore, who will help them continue to shape the future of space technologies and services. It includes leveraging the SDK to gather new insights into how edge computing solutions can better enable government and commercial customers to achieve their mission objectives. Furthermore, Microsoft’s existing community partners will leverage the SDK.