AWS Architecture Monthly
A selection of the best new technical content from AWS
Aerospace ~ October, 2021
- Ask an Expert: Scott Eberhardt, Worldwide Tech Lead for Aerospace at AWS; Shayn Hawthorne, Space Technology Leader for AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions Division; and Buffy Wajvoda, Worldwide Leader for Aerospace and Satellite Solutions Architecture at AWS
- Website: Introduction to AWS for Aerospace and Satellite
- Blog: Capella uses space to bring you closer to Earth
- Reference Architecture: Run Machine Learning Algorithms with Satellite Data
- Blog: UAE Mars mission uses AWS to advance scientific discoveries
- Solution: AWS re:Invent 2020: Detecting extreme weather events from space
- Blog: Announcing the AWS Space Accelerator for startups
- Reference Architecture: Electro-Optical Imagery Reference Architecture
- Case Study: Avio Aero Accelerates Business Growth with HPC Solution on AWS
- Reference Architecture: Connected Aircraft
- Case Study: Joby Aviation Uses AWS to Revolutionize Transportation
- Whitepaper: Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) on AWS: From Migration to Innovation
- Reference Architecture: Using Computer Vision for Product Quality Analysis in Plants
Ask an Expert
Buffy: The aerospace industry uses AWS to modernize its IT infrastructure, enable digital transformation, and drive innovation. However, they also have some unique challenges that make it an exciting segment to support.
The space and satellite industry, by definition, is focused beyond the confines of Earth. As such, customers in the industry require a global network to communicate back to Earth regardless where their mission takes them. Take for instance Capella Space (Capella). They aim to provide the most frequent, timely, and high-quality synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) imagery products and make them accessible through an intuitive, self-serve online platform.
AWS allows Capella to reach this goal. By using services like AWS Ground Station and our vast 100 gigabytes per second (Gbps) global infrastructure, Capella can downlink their SAR imagery data from all six inhabitable continents and transfer that data back to their main virtual private cloud (VPC).
The aerospace industry also depends on significant computational resources to perform calculations such as computational fluid dynamics, structural stress testing, and Monte Carlo-type simulations. AWS high performance computing (HPC) services allow aerospace customers to complete these calculations in record time.
In fact, Descartes Labs uses AWS HPC to process and understand the world and to handle the flood of data that comes from sensors on the ground, in the water, and in space. In 2021, they achieved a top 40 position for fastest HPC run in the world using AWS HPC and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) On-Demand Instances. They achieved 9.95 petaflops (PFLOPs) of performance with a peak of 15.11 PFLOPs.
Additionally, Maxar Technologies (Maxar) uses AWS HPC to reduce weather processing by 58%.
“Prior to using AWS, no one thought any cloud environment was capable of outperforming an on-premises supercomputer in generating numerical weather predictions,” says Stefan Cecelski, a data scientist at Maxar. “But with the fast networking speed provided by AWS, we accomplished what many IT experts considered impossible.”
AWS storage services are also a differentiator for the aerospace industry. Aerospace customers produce petabytes (PB) of data. This includes data from Earth observation pictures and readings, calculations, engineering artifacts, factory operations, and mission analysis. In addition, the aerospace industry is highly regulated, which creates requirements to keep data for long periods of time. AWS intelligence tiered storage options like Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon S3 Glacier provide storage with 99.999999999% durability and provide a cost-effective storage method to meet storage and regulatory needs.
Additionally, many aerospace customers are required to comply with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export controls. AWS GovCloud (US) makes this compliance possible and relatively easy.
Scott/Buffy: The number one concern we face with aerospace customers is data security. Even commercial companies have ITAR concerns that influence their thinking. In the US, building in AWS GovCloud (US) satisfies most customers’ needs. Outside the US, there is no AWS GovCloud (US) equivalent, so specialized environments must be built. Partners and third parties supply help, such as Thales Solutions for AWS.
The second concern aerospace customers have is around the regulatory environment in which aerospace vehicles must operate. Currently, AWS services, such as AWS IoT Greengrass, AWS Snowball, and AWS Snowcone, operate on aircraft.
AWS GovCloud (US)’s security and compliance features meet many regulatory requirements. For example, architectures can be built on AWS GovCloud (US) that comply with Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) high baseline; ITAR; Export Administration Regulations (EAR); Department of Defense (DoD) Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide (SRG) for Impact Levels 2, 4, and 5; Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2; IRS-1075; and other compliance regimes.
Aerospace customers use HPC. Most are using commercial off-the-shelf codes that are compiled for specific chip sets. Usually, those chip sets are Intel or AMD based. Another cost-effective option is AWS Graviton2, which powers chips that have been extensively benchmarked for typical aerospace HPC workloads, such as computational fluid dynamics and finite-element analysis. Another recommendation for aerospace HPC workloads is to use Amazon FSx for Lustre or Amazon FSx for Windows File Server.
Scott/Shayn: By using AWS Cloud, aerospace startup companies can reduce their capital costs and do not have to worry about provisioning or waiting to have their IT infrastructure built. They can also see how to scale as their company grows. Most startups use HPC and computer-aided engineering workloads using Amazon S3, AWS Parallel Cluster with Amazon AppStream 2.0, or Amazon WorkSpaces. These are managed services that allow engineers to get what they need, when they need it, without having to worry about provisioning for future workloads. Some startups start their cloud journey using software as a service (SaaS) partners. However, the added cost of a fully integrated SaaS provider can lead them to seek their own solutions on AWS.
Many legacy companies have built supporting software to manage their workflows on their existing infrastructure. They tend to mix and match software from various vendors and use internal solutions to manage data. Because of this, when legacy customers discuss migrating to the cloud, integration is often a significant concern. Understandably, there are some times they do not want to rebuild their workload tools and services for a new platform. So, there is growing interest in containers, specifically Kubernetes. We introduce them to integration services and our Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) to manage their container stacks.
Shayn: The outlook for aerospace, and specifically space system development, is enormously positive. The cloud allows companies to reduce their dependency on building undifferentiated infrastructure and focus on generating and analyzing space data and developing space technology.
The space industry is changing at the most rapid rate since the original Apollo missions. Advancements in technology such as propulsion, materials, and the emergence of CubeSats have significantly lowered barriers to entry. Once the sole province of government agencies, space is now accessible to global consortiums, venture capitalists, and university students and researchers.
For example, in 2018, there were 365 satellites launched globally. By 2025, we estimate that number to triple to over 1,000 launches per year. Given these changes and the fact that there are now commercial alternatives, governments no longer have to design, acquire, operate, and sustain all space systems. They can use commercial services to fulfill key missions, including intelligence, communications, military applications, and space exploration.
The AWS Cloud is well suited to space endeavors, which require global networks, significant computational resources, and the ability to cost effectively store petabytes of data. And there are certainly significant investments going into space technology. According to a Bryce Space and Technology 2018 market analysis, the global space economy was estimated at $360 billion in 2018. A Space Foundation study revised that number in 2019 to $424 billion – huge growth! Through 2024, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) alone is projected to spend between $24-30 billion on Project Artemis to take humankind back to the moon. Goldman Sachs reports the global space economy will exceed $1 trillion by 2040. This is great for AWS space customers and partners because industry analysis of IT spending trends by Deloitte, with a 44 percent year-over-year IT growth rate, forecasts the space cloud spend should reach $3.7 billion by 2023, which shows that the analyst community agrees that the cloud will play an important role in space development.
Scott: Two areas that are hot with customers are model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and connected aircraft and spacecraft. The former is the subject of the recently released Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) on AWS: From Migration to Innovation whitepaper. This whitepaper includes a generic architecture for MBSE.
Buffy Wajvoda, Worldwide Leader for Aerospace and Satellite Solutions Architecture at AWS
Scott Eberhardt, Worldwide Tech Lead for Aerospace at AWS
Dr. Scott Eberhardt is the Worldwide Tech Lead for Aerospace at AWS. He started this role in January 2020 after serving as the EMEA HPC Specialist for the Public Sector. In addition, Scott holds a Visiting Reader position at Imperial College.
Shayn Hawthorne, Space Technology Leader for AWS Aerospace and Satellite
Shayn Hawthorne works in the AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions Division as the Space Technology Leader. He works with customers to develop services and features that disrupt how space exploration, satellite, and launch operations are conducted and to collect and use space data to improve their missions and products. Shayn is the founder of the AWS Ground Station service.
- Aerospace - October 2021
- Advertising Technology - September 2021
- Sustainability - August 2021
- Genomics - July 2021
- 5G - June 2021
- Travel and Hospitality - May 2021
- Biopharma - April 2021
- Semiconductor Design - March 2021
- Manufacturing - February 2021
- Open Source - Nov/Dec 2020
- AWS Solutions – October 2020
- Robotics – September 2020
- Agriculture – August 2020
- Advertising & Marketing – July 2020
- Media & Entertainment – June 2020
- Education – May 2020
- Automotive – April 2020
- Data Lakes – March 2020
- Healthcare – February 2020
- AWS re:Invent – January 2020
- Manufacturing – Nov/Dec 2019
- Financial Services – October 2019
- Games – September 2019
- Serverless – August 2019
- Machine Learning – July 2019
- Internet of Things – June 2019
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AWS Architecture Monthly provides new and curated content about architecting in the AWS Cloud. Our goal is to provide you with the best new technical content from AWS, from in-depth tutorials and whitepapers to customer videos and trending articles. We also interview industry experts who provide unique perspectives about the month’s theme and its related AWS services and solutions.