New Microsoft Azure off-planet space solutions are here

Azure (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is serious about getting its technologies woven into a multitude of space-focused projects.
  • Microsoft has collaborations with NASA, is developing solutions for the International Space Station (ISS), and more.
  • The company recently announced a comprehensive spread of its current off-planet initiatives.

If you thought Microsoft's various cloud endeavors were useful down here on the ground, you don't know the half of it; the company's blasting off Team Rocket-style to bring the power of Azure and AI to the stars.

Microsoft whipped up a comprehensive blog post detailing the big-ticket items actively being worked on. Included in the current lineup of initiatives:

  • NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) are testing AI at the ultimate edge for Astronaut Safety.
  • New partnerships are bringing development capabilities to on-orbit compute.
  • Unlocking new on-orbit climate data applications with Thales Alenia Space (TAS).
  • Developing new technologies with Loft Orbital to demonstrate re-taskable satellite functions and seamless connectivity to the terrestrial cloud.
  • Demonstrating reconfigurable on-orbit compute and AI processing with Ball Aerospace.
  • Rapidly analyzing spaceborne data with the new reference architecture for Azure Orbital with Azure Synapse.
  • Empowering analysts with newly integrated geospatial models are available with Azure Orbital.

Some of those are self-explanatory, but others require a bit of explanation. For example, "Astronaut Safety" refers to the joint effort by HPE, NASA, and Microsoft to enable solutions for automatically detecting damage to astronaut equipment. That includes glove monitors since, as told by Microsoft, astronaut gloves are at risk of getting cut by glass-like micrometeorite shards and all of the surfaces said shards carve knife-like sharp edges into. It's crazy stuff!

Microsoft's also helping up the quality of satellite imagery with AI, working with Thales Alenia Space on "Earth Observation sensors" to help process climate data, and partnering with Loft Orbital to cook up new Azure-based apps for space systems. If you want a deep dive into Microsoft's activities, go check out its posts that explore the deeper aspects of the current projects, but otherwise, just know that while other cloud services say the sky's the limit, Microsoft seems keen to take its products as far out as possible.

In more down-to-Earth cloud news, Microsoft's partnering with Boeing to help update the latter company's infrastructure.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to