Q. What is AWS Ground Station?
AWS Ground Station is a fully managed service that will enable customers to easily command, control, and downlink data from satellites. You can schedule access to AWS Ground Station antennas on a per-minute basis and pay only for your time used. When using AWS Ground Station, you can ingest data from the satellite, monitor the satellite health and status, and transmit commands to change the satellite’s operations. Incoming data is streamed to an Amazon EC2 instance where it can then be stored or processed using other AWS services.
Q. What are the key benefits of AWS Ground Station?
AWS Ground Station is the industry’s first satellite Ground Station as a Service located within the AWS Global Infrastructure footprint to offer on-demand, elastic access to ground station satellite antennas without long-term contracts. Traditionally, you have needed to make significant capital investments to build ground stations for these communications, including the costs for servers and storage to process incoming data. This limits your ability to respond quickly to new business opportunities or significant events (such as major weather events) and requires you to operate and maintain a global network of ground antennas. With AWS Ground Station, AWS manages the ground station infrastructure, so you can focus on innovating and rapidly experimenting with new applications that ingest satellite data and dynamically scale their server and storage use. And, you can easily integrate this data with other AWS services, either in the same region or in another AWS Region using Amazon’s international, high-capacity backbone network.
Q. How do I get started using AWS Ground Station?
To get started, navigate to the AWS Ground Station console in the AWS Management Console. Here, you identify the satellites you need to communicate with and schedule “Contacts” with the satellite. Each Contact consists of a selected satellite, start and end time, and the ground location. You can review confirmed Contact times in your console and cancel or reschedule up to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled contact time. After scheduling a Contact, use the AWS Ground Station EC2 AMI to launch EC2 instances for the Contact: a Command instance to receive operational telemetry from the satellite and transmit changes to the satellite’s planned future activities, and a Downlink instance to receive bulk mission data from the satellite. These instances will communicate with the AWS Ground Station antenna gateway using an ENI connection that exists between the EC2 instances and the satellite antenna for the duration of the contact.
Q. Can I schedule time on an antenna in one location (e.g. Oregon) while I am working from another location (e.g. Sydney)?
Yes, AWS Ground Station is a global network of antenna systems that are available to users around the world. In fact, it will be common for many users to schedule time on antennas at every location in the global network.
Q. What is a Contact?
A Contact is a reservation to communicate with a specific satellite from an identified ground location between certain times.
Q. What happens when my scheduled Contact time arrives?
Prior to the scheduled contact time, use the Amazon EC2 AMI to launch the required instances to communicate with the satellite. Just prior to the scheduled contact, these instances will be able to establish connections to the AWS Ground Station antenna gateway over an ENI connection. Once the contact begins, the instances will begin sending and receiving data from the satellite.
Q. What happens if my requested Contact cannot be reserved?
In the event your preferred Contact cannot be granted (for example, due to existing reservations for antenna time at the chosen location), the AWS Ground Station Management Console will provide available alternatives for your review.
Q. How does AWS Ground Station make sure nobody else commands my satellite?
AWS Ground Station uses multiple measures to protect satellites from unauthorized contact. Prior to allowing contact with a satellite for the first time, AWS onboards and identifies the satellite owner and associates the satellite and satellite owner with a designated customer account. The customer is then able to use that account with AWS Ground Station to schedule satellite contacts or authorize other AWS accounts to schedule contacts. Prior to each contact, AWS validates that the contact will cause no radio interference. Access to the AWS Ground Station antenna gateway is limited to the authorized EC2 instances for the period of the contact. Customers are in complete control of the encryption keys used to authorize and encrypt data to the satellite.
Q. What types of satellites can AWS Ground Station communicate with?
Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Non-Geostationary Earth Orbit (NGSO), and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).
Q. What radio frequencies/bands can AWS Ground Station use to communicate with satellites?
AWS Ground Station antennas are capable of using common frequency bands to communicate with satellites, including: S- and X-.
Q. How fast is AWS Ground Station?
AWS Ground Station supports narrowband uplink speeds up to 54 MHz and downlink speeds up to 500MHz.
Q. How far in advance can I schedule Contacts?
Reserved Minute Contacts may be reserved up to 21 days in advance and rescheduled up to 1 day prior to a scheduled contact. On demand contacts can be scheduled as much as 7 days and as little as 15 minutes in advance and cannot be rescheduled.
Q. How does AWS Ground Station relate to/work with other AWS products?
It’s easy to use AWS Ground Station with other AWS services to process and store satellite-originated data, either in the region local to each AWS Ground Station antenna or in another AWS region (using Amazon’s international backbone network.) Data can be stored locally on EC2 instances using Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), in a shared filesystem using Amazon Elastic File System (EFS), or in Amazon S3. In S3, you can configure lifecycle policies to automatically migrate older, less-frequently-accessed data to less expensive storage classes, including S3 Infrequent Access and Amazon Glacier.
You can use Amazon Kinesis Data Streams to fully manage data ingestion and provide consistent APIs for integrating data analysis into your applications. It provides seamless integration with Amazon Rekognition, enabling automatic recognition of objects (such as cars or airplanes). You can also use Amazon SageMaker to build custom machine learning applications that apply to your data.
Q: What if I schedule a contact but then need to cancel the contact?
Reserved Minutes customers may cancel contacts up to 24 hours before contact start with no fee or penalty. If Reserved Minutes customers need to cancel contacts less than 24 hours before contact start time, there is a cancellation fee equal to the price of the contact. On Demand customers may cancel contacts up to 15 minutes before contact start with a cancellation fee equal to the price of that contact.
Q: When will I be charged for my Ground Station usage?
Customers will be charged after each contact completes. Customers will see the charge on their monthly AWS bill each month for their Reserved Minutes commitment plus any On Demand minutes used that month.