AWS has done it again with Ground Station

AWS Ground Station page on Amazon Web Services.

Amazon has done it again. AWS has just lauched a ground breaking service that allows companies of every size to communicate with satellites in space and use their data for services on earth. The company keeps innovating on the cloud and offering customer with products that otherwise would be expensive for many companies. AWS is able to scale services such as satellite access and lower that cost by offering AS A SERVICE and at a lower cost giving it the scale that it needs for such otherwise unreachable services.

To access satellites before companies had to contract services of larger providers or government agencies through expensive and bureaucratic contracts. With AWS Ground Station one can register and schedule their satellites in minutes.  IT enables your company to control and ingest data from orbiting satellites without having to buy or build satellite ground station infrastructure., and it does this by integrating ground equipment like antennas, digitizers, and modems into the AWS Regions around the world.

I can imagine a bunch of space enthusiasts setting up satellites for projects with dubious reasons. Exploring people’s lives, monitoring the sky for extraterrestrials and who knows what else. With its easy and affordability, more people will be able to provide services that collect information that is sent to space. What could be the implications of such a service?

For now, AWS Ground Station is available only by request. Meaning that AWS will probably evaluate your use of their service before giving you access to the satellites. Once you are in, the charge for the stations is by minute and you only pay for the actual antenna time you use. With no long term contracts and a single price. Just like a cloud or Software as a Service product.

According to the AWS Ground Station features, people can choose from any satellite in low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO) operating in X-band, S-band and UHF frequencies, including: UHF uplink and downlink, S-band uplink and downlink, X-band narrowband and wideband downlink. Amazon uses as examples of usage, such as Natural Disasters, where with AWS Ground Station one can rapidly analyze downlinked imagery data to identify survivors, assess structural damages, and rapidly stream this data to first responders and rescue teams. OR weather conditions. According to them, you can use radar satellite imagery of your various business facilities such as parking lots, logistic centers, and retail stores to autonomously measure cars, traffic and customer flow patterns, even when it’s dark or cloudy weather conditions.

AWS Ground Station natural disaster comunications graphic.
This graphic exemplifies hows AWS Ground Station could work in a natural disaster situation.

This could be game changing. AWS is famous for changing the game in computing by making access to powerful computing a commodity accessible to anybody for a reasonable cost. With Ground Station Amazon could be planning to also branch out to services that used pertain only to governments.

Max Francisco has been doing digital projects in Brazil and the US for the last 15 years.