Thales Alenia Space with help from Microsoft demonstrates on-orbit compute technologies onboard the International Space Station to gather unmatched Earth observation insights

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to explore the enablement of new capabilities in the Space Edge Computing (SEC), Artificial Intelligence Space Observation tools (Deeper Vision) and Digital Ground Segment.


In particular, Thales Alenia Space plans to deliver advanced connectivity, analytics and compute in space with Space Edge Computing (SEC) with Microsoft. To this end, the companies will demonstrate and validate on-orbit computing technologies and potentialities onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023. Thales Alenia Space will deploy a powerful on-orbit computer, an on-orbit application framework, and high-performance Earth Observation sensors to unlock new on-orbit climate data processing applications for the benefits of our planet sustainability. Thales Alenia Space will work with Microsoft Research in remote sensing, computer vision and climate science to demonstrate the potential of next-generation on-orbit compute for Earth observation. This space edge computing capacity will allow gathering faster, to-the-point Earth observation insights immediately applicable for our planet’s surveillance, understanding and protection.


The two companies will also strengthen the cooperation started in April 2021 on Artificial Intelligence Space Observation tools with the integration of Deeper Vision, an Earth observation data analytics software by Thales Alenia Space, into Microsoft Azure Orbital. Deeper Vision is a key digital service for quick and systematic mass processing Earth observation imagery. Customers will be able to use all the functionalities of Deeper Vision solution for processing dataflows and generating timely information with the cloud capabilities of Azure Orbital. In addition, Deeper Vision is one of the software intended to be run onboard the ISS using Space Edge Computing capacities. Thales Alenia Space intends to democratize Space Observation with Microsoft by taking to market accessible AI Space Observation tools (such as Deeper Vision) for developers.


Lastly, Thales Alenia Space aims to accelerate deployment of ground stations and increase reach of connectivity with Microsoft by designing and taking to market a joint managed service proposal to deliver Ground Station Virtualization and “as-a-service” model.


Hervé Derrey CEO of Thales Alenia Space, commented: “Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft are pushing one step further their vision of a seamless world between space and digital 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 such a reference partner as Microsoft to unlock new markets, including on-orbit climate data processing to better protect our planet. The global memorandum of understanding strengthens our relationship with Microsoft, on the path to digital space.”


Tom Keane, Corporate Vice President, Mission Engineering of Microsoft added: “After our initial collaboration to embed Deeper Vision software in Azure Space, we are taking another step forward with Thales Alenia Space by demonstrating on-orbit compute running on the Microsoft Cloud.  Doing so offers immediate practical applications for climate change research, and opens the door to opportunities that extend well beyond space.”


More about the Space Edge Computing demonstration onboard the ISS


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





Sandrine Bielecki Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

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