According to Reuter, Microsoft Corp MSFT.O is partnering with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk-led SpaceX and others as it expands its cloud-computing platform into space, the software giant said on Tuesday.
Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, designed to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet.
The partnership comes as Microsoft expands into the space industry, with the company a few weeks ago unveiling a new service called Azure Orbital to connect satellites directly to the cloud. Notably, Azure Orbital and the new SpaceX partnership set up Microsoft and Musk’s company to compete in its battle with the rival cloud platform from Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O.
It would allow Microsoft to connect its Azure cloud computing platform to SpaceX’s network of low-Earth orbiting satellites, offering the software company.
SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a video that “The collaboration that we’re announcing today will allow us to work together to deliver new offerings for both the public and the private sector to deliver connectivity through Starlink for use on Azure,” “Where it makes sense, we will work with [Microsoft]: co-selling to our mutual customers, co-selling to new enterprise and future customers.”
“Where it makes sense, we will work with you, co-selling to our mutual customers, co-selling to new enterprise and future customers, and basically bring the power of the Starlink connectivity to the Azure infrastructure,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told Tom Keane, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Azure Global, in a promotional video.
Cloud companies have seen a surge in demand this year as more businesses use their services for switching to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even, Amazon.com Inc said on Thursday it will invest more than $10 billion to build a network of 3,236 satellites that will provide high-speed broadband internet services to people around the world who lack such access.
However, Microsoft in recent months has tested its Azure cloud with satellites in space, and in September unveiled its Azure Space venture, tapping into the demand for data-heavy space services.
The services include “disaster prediction and tracking, increased visibility of supply chains and economic activity, and many others,” the company has said in U.S. regulatory filings.
SpaceX, known for its reusable rockets and astronaut capsules, is ramping up satellite production for Starlink, a growing constellation of hundreds of internet-beaming satellites that Musk hopes will generate enough revenue to help fund SpaceX’s interplanetary goals.
Earlier this month, SpaceX won a $149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon, its first government contract to build satellites.
Bezos, whose space company Blue Origin is aiming for a debut launch of its New Glenn rocket in 2021, plans to deploy a satellite constellation rivaling SpaceX’s Starlink dubbed Project Kuiper, a proposed network of 3,236 satellites.
Above all, SpaceX has launched over 500 satellites of the roughly 12,000 expected for its Starlink constellation in low Earth orbit and plans to offer broadband service in the United States and Canada by the year’s end. The company has an ongoing private beta test of the service, and is also working with organizations in rural regions of Washington state to deliver satellite internet.