Extending Azure to space with Azure Orbital!
Published Sep 28 2021 01:13 AM 4,537 Views
Copper Contributor

Hello, I am Megha Pandey, a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador who loves to explore emerging technologies, The very first time I encountered Azure Orbital as part of the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors, Emerging Tech League and wanted to share something about this emerging technology which can help you to explore the Microsoft Learn Learning paths in Space exploration.   


Easily connect ground satellite stations to Azure services and integrations. 

Azure Orbital allows you to manage your data without building your own “ 

Azure Orbital is a fully managed cloud-based ground station as a service that lets you communicate with your spacecraft or satellite constellations, downlink and uplink data, process your data in the cloud, chain services with Azure services in unique scenarios, and generate products for your customers. Azure Orbital lets you focus on the mission and product data by off-loading the responsibility for deployment and maintenance of ground station assets. This system is built on top of the Azure global infrastructure and low-latency global fiber network. 


Learn about azure orbitals with AQUA 

Spaceship, spacecraft, and rocket are vehicles or machines designed to fly in outer space. A type of artificial satellite, spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, Earth observation, meteorology, navigation, space colonization, planetary exploration, and transportation of humans and cargo. 


It consists of some basic parts: 

Payload system: this is a topmost conical part of a spaceship which carries human, missiles, satellite to outer space according to their demand. 

Guidance system: helps to communicate your spaceship with the main launch center  

Propulsion system: Fuels are stored(detachable) 




Our spacecraft is ready, but we need a pathway where we want our satellite to be placed, these are called orbits. 

Orbit: An orbit is a regular, repeating path that one object in space takes around another one. An object in an orbit is called a satellite. 





The satellite: A satellite is a moon, planet or machine that orbits a planet or star. Usually, the word "satellite" refers to a machine that is launched into space and moves around Earth or another body in space.  

We will be launching a satellite named AQUA, It is a NASA scientific research satellite in orbit around the Earth, studying the precipitation, evaporation, and cycling of water.  




Our satellite has uplink and downlink placed in it, to receive and transfer data respectively from the earth to back to earth, these are extremely sensitive antennas to catch the signals that come from the earth.  

But how do they receive signals

The spaceship receives signals from the highly specialized giant dishes you could see below known as ground stations; they help the satellites up in outer space to contact the main center  



 The problem  

  • Setting up ground station is a huge, complex, and lengthy task 
  • It requires a huge capital investment  
  • Communicating with satellite is tough  


There are a lot more problems, discouraging people from thinking about a Space Organization. 


A Call for Azure Orbital: Solution 

Azure Orbital is a Ground Station As-a-Service that provides communication and control of your satellite. Orbital enables easy and integrated data processing and scale for your operations directly from Azure. Leverage familiar Azure services to process and store your data at scale.  


The approach is simply eliminating the Ground Stations (dishes) and adding Azure Ground station as a service:  


  • Register a spacecraft – Input the NORAD ID, TLE, and licensing information for each satellite. 
  • Create a contact profile – Input the center frequency and bandwidth requirements for each link, as well as other details such as minimum elevation and auto track requirements. Feel free to create as many profiles as required. For example, one for commanding only, or one for payload downlinks. 
  • Schedule the contact – Select the spacecraft and select a contact profile along with the time and date window to view the available passes at ours and our partner network’s sites to reserve. We will have a first come first serve algorithm at first, but priority scheduling or guaranteed scheduling is on the roadmap. 



Our communication with AQUA through Azure Orbitals: 






  • First, we will create a profile for our satellite which consists of information about the location and specifications of AQUA at Azure Portal 
  •  You will set the location with the time and a closet azure ground station  
  • We will choose US-east-1 of our satellite and the approx. time when it encounters the antenna of Azure ground station  





As soon as the satellite receives the signals it starts transmitting date (280 TB/ day with speed 50.0 MBPS) 







The image above gives us an idea of how the data is received at various frequency bands and speed. 


LocationAzure Orbital will co-locate Microsoft ground stations in our datacenters or in close proximity. In addition, Azure Orbital will enable customers to use partner ground stations to ingest data in Azure using those ground stations. 



What type of satellite can contact with Azure orbitals 

Orbital can be used to schedule Contacts with Non-Geostationary Earth Orbit satellites (NGSO) which include Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) Satellites. 


 Why Azure Orbitals!  


  • Fast and direct data ingestion using Orbital ground stations 
  • Schedule satellite contacts across both partner and Microsoft ground stations 
  • Seamless data processing in Azure with accelerated software modems 




 Inspired! Want to learn more? Azure Orbital documentation: 



 Watch the Azure Orbital announcement at Ignite on the Azure YouTube Channel



 Microsoft Learn and Space Learning Paths 

Classify space rocks by using Python and artificial intelligence - Learn | Microsoft Docs

Learn about space rocks and how to classify them - Learn | Microsoft Docs
Explore space with Python and Visual Studio Code; inspired by Netflix's Over the Moon - Learn | Micr...
Introduction to Python for space exploration - Learn | Microsoft Docs


Version history
Last update:
‎Sep 28 2021 01:22 AM
Updated by: