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Cloud computing has revolutionized all kinds of business and workplace environments, but one of the biggest players in the industry now hopes it can help accelerate the next big breakthroughs in space as well.

Speaking at the recent AWS re:Invent 2022 event, Clint Crosier, the company’s director of aerospace and satellite, outlined how the company is heavily backing the use of cloud computing in space.

At a panel session alongside Peggy Whitson, astronaut and director of human space flight at Axiom, Crosier described, “what we at AWS call the making the world a better place from space mission.”

The race for space

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has famously funded multiple space-bound projects through his company Blue Origin, but the cloud arm of his former company clearly sees space as the next big frontier for the technology.

AWS recently revealed that it had run a positive trial of its software suite on a low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite for the first time earlier this year. The trial included successful downlinks of imagery data from the satellite, with the software automatically reviewing images to decide which were the most helpful to send back to Earth.

Crosier explained that NASA’s recent handing-off of other LEO activity to private companies such as Blue Origin could be a good thing for scientific discovery, with companies such as Whitson’s Axiom taking over “mundane” tasks that will allow NASA to push on to the next big project.

Crosier, who admitted he’s become “a cloud zealot” during his time at AWS, outlined how future space activity such as repairing satellites, asteroid mining, and even space tourism and exploration will all require greater computing capabilities, as well as more processing speed and power, which the cloud can help provide.

“What the cloud allows you to do is create infrastructure, tinker (with it) to come up with optimal designs…and then with two or three clicks of a button you can upload it to the ISS – that’s a game-changer,” he noted.

“The thing that’s really exciting to me in the application of technology is it seems every year we come up with a new way to use space capability that we didn’t know before that actually improves lives, and in some cases, saves lives… I love that the advanced technical capabilities of cloud support this mission to do this faster and more effectively than ever before.”

“Just like the Earth has benefitted from the terrestrial cloud…all the new missions we see emerging in space are going to require the same advanced cloud-based technology,” he said, “so our goal at AWS is to push that to wherever customers need it.”

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