AWS Public Sector Blog

Celebrating 40 years of space exploration

On April 12, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the successful launch of Space Shuttle Columbia, the first flight of the NASA space shuttle program.

Space exploration has advanced significantly over the past 40 years. With missions like the space shuttle, NASA has led the way, demonstrating for the world their ability to push the boundaries of technological innovation to explore space, collect data, and enable scientific knowledge to make the world a better place.

We are now in an exciting and daring new age as more organizations around the world are looking to explore space and achieve a sustainable operating presence. And fulfilling space-based missions demands innovation.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is proud to support our customers globally to push the boundaries of space exploration. We built the aerospace and satellite team as our long-term commitment to the space enterprise and we are putting our team’s collective years of hands-on space experience to work for our customers to help them achieve their boldest visions through cloud innovation. We are helping organizations:

Bring space closer to Earth

On February 18, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover landed on Mars, after its seven month, 300-million-mile journey from Earth. During Perseverance’s mission. NASA will process and host the science and engineering data in AWS, enabling the Mars 2020 mission to benefit from the scalability, agility, and reliability of the cloud. Now on the surface, the Mars Rover team is receiving hundreds of images from Mars each day from a record number of cameras. They expect thousands of images over Perseverance’s time on the planet. The cloud helps NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) efficiently store, process, and distribute this high volume of data.

Embark on space firsts

The United Arab Emirates Hope Probe successfully entered Mars’s orbit on February 9, making history as the country’s first interplanetary mission. UAE uses AWS advanced technologies to process and analyze the vast amounts of data and imagery the probe collects to help researchers better understand the Martian atmosphere and its layers.

Last month, AWS launched the AWS Space Accelerator. The program aims to leverage the power of startups to drive innovation and improve accessibility to space data. The AWS Space Accelerator is a four-week business support program for space startups seeking to use AWS to help solve the biggest challenges in the space industry. AWS and Seraphim will select 10 companies to participate in the four-week accelerator, taking place in June 2021.

Democratize access to satellite data

Over the past decade, companies focused on Earth observation (EO) have made valuable EO data more accessible. New instrumentation aboard satellites allow us to see through clouds, allowing observation of any part of the Earth. The reliable and repeatable data from satellites is opening up the reality of operational services powered by satellite imagery. AWS Ground Station is a fully managed, pay-per-use service that lets you communicate with satellites without having to buy, lease, build, or maintain your own satellite ground stations. Learn how to use AWS Ground Station.

Capella Space, a provider of on-demand Earth observation data via synthetic aperture radar (SAR), is all-in on AWS. Capella runs its entire IT infrastructure on AWS to automate and scale its operations. AWS Ground Station makes it simple and cost effective for Capella to command and control its constellation and receive its satellite data directly into AWS using a fully managed network of antenna systems located around the world. Hear more from Capella Space in this episode of the Fix This podcast.

Digital Earth Africa makes EO data more accessible, providing valuable insights for better decision-making related to prevention and planning in areas including flooding, droughts, soil and coastal erosion, agriculture, forest-cover, land use and land cover change, water availability and quality, and changes to human settlements. Fireball International uses satellite data and ground-based sensor data, combined with deep learning in the cloud, to detect wildfires fires as early as three minutes after ignition. BlueDot Observatory leverages AWS open source EO data, infrastructure, and compute to keep an eye on our planet’s water resources.


AWS celebrates the achievements of the space shuttle mission over the past 40 years and stands ready to help organizations get to the stars, through the cloud by reimagining how our customers can access, operate, discover, and further explore space to build a better world, to the stars—through the cloud.

Watch this story featuring astronaut Peggy Whitson and I discussing how AWS is helping astronauts, scientists, and everyday heroes make the future of space a reality.