Microsoft has boosted its investment in Australia’s space sector through Azure Space, integrating its cloud solutions with a range of partners tackling spaced-based technologies.
Led by Lynn McDonald, a former US Air Force colonel, Azure Space in the country will be based in Adelaide’s technology precinct Lot Fourteen and has signed a Statement of Strategic Intent with the Australian Space Agency, according to the agency's head, Enrico Palermo.
“The signing ... with Microsoft signals our shared ambition to grow the national space industry as part of the Agency’s broader mission to triple the size of the sector to $12 billion and add another 20,000 jobs by 2030," Palermo said.
“The signing comes at a time of increasing momentum in the Australian space sector and acknowledges the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to leverage space technologies for the benefit of life on Earth.”
Azure Space has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nokia and South Australia’s Department for Trade and Investment to work on solutions that combine space technology, such as satellite imagery, with artificial intelligence- (AI) powered analytics and 5G edge connectivity and processing.
The expected use cases from this MoU, Microsoft claimed, include solutions for rail safety, mine automation, Defence and public sectors.
Azure Space is also set to work with technology start-up hub Stone & Chalk, as well as the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), the latter of which on its “Project AI Off Earth”, which focuses on the application of advanced cloud computing, AI, computer vision and machine learning in space.
Specifically, it will conduct modelling, emulation and simulation of complex space operations and systems; build algorithms for on-board satellite data processing; develop solutions for the remote operation and optimisation of satellites, constellations and swarms; and address space domain awareness and debris monitoring.
“As someone born and raised in Australia, I’m excited to see the rapid growth of Australia’s space ecosystem,” said Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Azure Global at Microsoft.
“At Microsoft, we see an opportunity to partner with organisations of all sizes and bring the power of Azure to solve complex challenges and unlock new opportunities.”
Azure Space also covers the Microsoft for Space Startups Australia initiative, which launched in August.