AWS Public Sector Blog

Ingest data from orbiting satellites and save up to 80% with AWS Ground Station

Satellites are used by an increasing number universities and governments for applications including weather, surface imaging, communications, and video broadcasts. To do this today, they must build or obtain long-term leases on ground antennas to communicate with the satellites. This is a significant undertaking and cost because customers often require antennas in multiple countries to maintain satellite connectivity. Beginning with the recently announced AWS Ground Station, customers can save up to 80% of their ground station costs by only paying for satellite communications when their organization needs them.

Streamline satellite data workflows

Using AWS and AWS Ground Station, customers can streamline their current satellite data workflows and rapidly experiment with new applications without the constraints of long-term contracts for infrastructure. Because many AWS Ground Station antennas are co-located with AWS Regions, customers have low-latency, local access to other AWS services to process and store this data.

One customer who is taking advantage of the service is DigitalGlobe.

“At DigitalGlobe, a Maxar Technologies company, we employ AWS Ground Station to augment the capabilities of our global network of ground station antennas. With greater connectivity to DigitalGlobe’s high-resolution constellation and more downlink capacity, our collection planning teams can now optimize the interval from planning to image collection, downlink, and analysis – especially valuable when time matters,” said Jeff Culwell, Chief Operations Officer, DigitalGlobe. “Partnering with the AWS team to help form AWS Ground Station has also opened exciting business innovations for our company and our customers. We simplify the task of streaming DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading satellite imagery from space to our Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX) for  industry-leading applications, such as AWS-native machine learning analysis, while at the same time eliminating multiple process steps, saving money and providing timely actionable information for our customers to make decisions with confidence.”

Getting started with AWS Ground Station

AWS Ground Station makes it easy for customers to download data from satellites using fully managed ground station antennas located in AWS Regions. Getting started with AWS Ground Station takes just a few clicks in the AWS Management Console to schedule antenna access time and launch an EC2 instance to communicate with the orbiting satellite. There are no up-front payments, no long-term commitments, and no antenna infrastructure to manage with AWS Ground Station; customers pay by the minute for antenna access time. Once satellite data is received on an EC2 instance, customers can store the data locally using Amazon S3, process the data with Amazon machine learning services, apply AWS analytics services to gain insights, or use Amazon’s international, high-capacity backbone network to move the data to another Region. Read Jeff Barr’s blog post for more information.

Using AWS Ground Station’s worldwide network of antenna locations, customers can reduce their costs for current workloads, and gain the ability to rapidly scale their satellite communications when required; for example, during major military, weather, medical, or natural disaster events.

During natural disasters you can rapidly analyze downlinked imagery data to identify survivors, assess structural damages, and immediately stream this data to first responders and rescue teams. You can apply analytics and machine learning to this data to identify the safest exit routes and best locations for temporary shelters and emergency medical facilities.

You can also use the AWS Cloud to analyze downlinked weather data from all over the world to more accurately predict weather patterns. This can be used to help ships, airplanes, trucks and people increase their awareness of inclement weather in their area and then safely and efficiently avoid dangerous situations.

Connect with multiple satellites at the same time, have nearly continual coverage in mission-critical situations, and lower the cost of getting information from space to Earth

With AWS Ground Station, customers can control and communicate with their satellites around the world. Now with the recently announced Lockheed Martin Verge, customers using AWS Ground Station gain the ability to download data from multiple satellites at the same time and to continue downloading data even when unplanned outages (like a weather event) impact parts of the network. And, Lockheed Martin Verge customers benefit from being able to upload satellite commands and data through AWS Ground Station and to quickly download large amounts of data over the high-speed AWS Ground Station network.

Customers can easily request Lockheed Martin Verge as their preferred downlink directly through the AWS Ground Station console or from the Verge management console. Once Lockheed Martin Verge receives and processes satellite data, customers can access it directly in their virtual private cloud (VPC) in AWS Regions. For AWS customers in the government or regulated industries, this includes the AWS GovCloud (US) and Secret Regions that carry the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret.

Learn more about AWS Ground Station and how public sector organizations can get started today:

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the AWS Public Sector blog team writes for the government, education, and nonprofit sector around the globe. Learn more about AWS for the public sector by visiting our website (, or following us on Twitter (@AWS_gov, @AWS_edu, and @AWS_Nonprofits).