Azure Orbital: Connecting the planet to the cloud with next-generation satellite communications
Published Feb 25 2024 08:00 PM 1,351 Views
Microsoft

Satellite communications have long depended on exquisite engineering, specialty electronics, and proprietary communications protocols to overcome the vast challenges of sending information outside the confines of our atmosphere and getting it safely back to Earth. Meeting the increasingly rapid demand for space connectivity requires that new economies of scale usher in the next era of satellite communication.

Named after the satellite ground station site in Germany that helped carry the first commercial satellite communications (including the 1969 broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing), Microsoft’s Project Raisting embraces terrestrial and non-terrestrial wireless communication networks by bringing technologies to the next generation of satellite communications. The project will .

 

SES & Microsoft Virtualisation Program

In October 2023, Microsoft and released a request for proposal for a joint Satellite Communications Virtualization Program. This program aims to create a fully virtualized, cloud-native platform for the satellite communications’ ground segment (the global collection of ground stations that make up the backbone of a satellite network).  Live satellite deployments will be enabled through collaboration with key vendors in both the satellite and telecommunications industries over a two-year period. To make the program a reality, to take advantage of and build upon the existing and expanding products for operators at Microsoft. Microsoft Azure Operator Nexus is a platform to build virtualized satellite ground infrastructure, and integrate capabilities of Microsoft Azure Operator 5G Core, which can improve user experience across SES’s growing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites and medium earth orbit satellite constellation, setting the foundation for future 5G-native satellite communications. This shifting of once-terrestrial technologies to the satellite world promises not only to lower costs and increase the flexibility of satellite networks, but also to create a better experience for satellite users. Industry use cases will be unlocked all while fostering a seamless interchange between satellite and cellular networks.

"The Satellite Communications Virtualisation Program promises to bring the world’s first fully virtualized satcom ground segment that will allow us to bridge the gap between terrestrial and non-terrestrial cloud and satellite network architectures, introduce 5G technology into commercial satellite networks, unlock economies of scale, and accelerate the delivery of new value-added services to customers,” said. “As we enter into the next phase of this exciting program, we are building an industry ecosystem to collaborate, innovate, and accelerate the shift to cloud-native satellite ground networks.”

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