Launch your application to space: Join an exciting on-orbit contest with Azure Orbital Space SDK
Published Apr 05 2023 10:48 AM 4,385 Views




Last November we announced the private preview of the Azure Orbital Space SDK, a product that makes application development for space as easy as developing on the ground. Today we are announcing an exciting new opportunity to work with the European Space Agency (ESA) Microsoft and Thales Alenia Space using the Azure Space SDK to fly your application in space.


ESA’s vision for edge computing in space is to foster an ecosystem of Earth observation applications. This challenge is designed to align with this goal and is open to a global audience of space, EO, and AI enthusiasts. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the global community to explore the potential of in-orbit data processing and contribute to the advancement of Earth’s sustainability.


ESA’s next-generation Φsat-2 mission will deliver a platform for the in-flight uploading, deployment and updating of third-party AI models, The OrbitalAI Challenge.


In parallel, Microsoft and Thales Alenia Space will demonstrate and validate in-orbit computing technologies and potentialities onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for the mission named IMAGIN-e (ISS Mounted Accessible Global Imaging Nod-e).


In this challenge, you can develop your skills and knowledge in AI and EO data, improve the efficiency of EO in benefiting society and the environment, and get the opportunity to be part of a space mission.


The two best teams from each track, the Φsat-2, or IMAGIN-e Trackwill have the privilege to launch their solutions into space!


Call to Action

The challenge is open worldwide to all EO or AI practitioners from students and early professionals to researchers, engineers, and experts in the field.


Come join us as we bring modern cloud-based applications to spacecraft. Together, we not only increase the efficiency, value, and speed of insights from space data but also increase the value of that data to improve Earth’s sustainability, business, industry, and science. Sign up here.


How it works

The competition will run from now to October, 2023 and have two phases.

  • Phase I: The open competition
    • The first phase starts in mid-February and ends in June. Participants will submit their best solution in the form of a Jupyter notebook together with a PowerPoint presentation and a pitch video of their solution.
    • By the end of June, 10 teams for each track will be selected for Phase II.
  • Phase II: Incubation & Production
    • The second phase starts in July and ends in October. During this phase, the selected teams for the Φsat-2 track will work on their solution together with the Φsat-2 consortium and Φ-lab teams. Teams selected for the IMAGIN-e Track will work with Microsoft engineers to prepare the incubation applications for the Azure Orbital . The solutions will be tested and verified on the ground, in the cloud, using simulated data from the mission’s payload.

In the end, 2 teams per track will have their solutions launched into space.


Learn More about the SDK

The Azure Orbital Space SDK was created to be able to run on any spacecraft and provide a secure hosting platform and application kit to create, deploy, and operate applications on-orbit. This "host platform" runs onboard the spacecraft including a containerized, scalable compute infrastructure with resource and schedule management capabilities.


The application kit provides a set of templates, samples, and documentation to make it easy to get up and running as a space developer with template applications for common workload patterns, such as earth observation image processing. There is also a "virtual test harness" that allows developers to easily test their applications on the ground against an instance of the host platform.



Partners in Space

Thales Alenia Space is a leader in orbital infrastructures and is developing high-power, edge-computing solutions for space. Microsoft is partnering with Thales Alenia Space to demonstrate and validate on-orbit compute technologies for multiple remote-sensing applications. Our team’s future orbital testbed, launching to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2023, brings together Thale’s edge computing hardware and Microsoft’s Azure Orbital Space SDK platform with visible and hyperspectral sensors, empowering the next generation to explore how space and on-orbit compute can improve our world. Developers on our platform will explore different on-orbit compute use cases, from AI-based hyperspectral image processing and to multi-sensor fusion algorithms, both computationally demanding workloads that benefit from Thales Alenia’s high-performance edge compute architecture.


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