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Thales Alenia Space with help from Microsoft demonstrate on-orbit compute technologies onboard the International Space Station to gather unmatched Earth observation insights

This demonstration is the keystone of an agreement between the two companies to enable new capabilities in the intersection of space and cloud

April 4, 2022 – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) (67%) and Leonardo  (Milan stock exchange: LDO) (33%),  announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to explore the enablement of new capabilities in the Space Edge Computing (SEC), Artificial Intelligence Space Observation tools (DeeperVision) and Digital Ground Segment.

In particular, Thales Alenia Space plans to deliver advanced connectivity, analytics and compute in space with Space Edge Computing (SEC) with Microsoft. To this end, the companies will demonstrate and validate on-orbit computing technologies and potentialities onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023. Thales Alenia Space  will deploy a powerful on-orbit computer, an on-orbit application framework, and high-performance Earth Observation sensors to unlock new on-orbit climate data processing applications for the benefits of our planet sustainability. Thales Alenia Space will work with Microsoft Research in remote sensing, computer vision and climate science to demonstrate the potential of next-generation on-orbit compute for Earth observation. This space edge computing capacity will allow gathering faster, to-the-point Earth observation insights immediately applicable for our planet’s surveillance, understanding and protection.

The two companies will also strengthen the cooperation started in April 2021 on Artificial Intelligence Space Observation tools with the integration of DeeperVision, an Earth observation data analytics software by Thales Alenia Space, into Microsoft Azure Orbital. DeeperVision is a key digital service for quickly and systematically mass processing Earth observation imagery. Customers will be able to use all the functionalities of DeeperVision solution for processing dataflows and generating timely information with the cloud capabilities of Azure Orbital. In addition, DeeperVision is one of the software intended to be run onboard the ISS using Space Edge Computing capacities. Thales Alenia Space intends to democratize Space Observation with Microsoft by taking to market accessible AI Space Observation tools (such as DeeperVision) for developers.

Lastly, Thales Alenia Space  aims to accelerate deployment of ground stations and increase reach of connectivity with Microsoft by designing and taking to market a joint managed service proposal to deliver Ground Station Virtualization and “as-a-service” model.

Hervé Derrey CEO of Thales Alenia Space, commented: “Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft are pushing one step further their vision of a seamless world between space and digital by soon demonstrating the benefits of space edge computing for their customers. Thales Alenia Space is particularly proud to be at the forefront of innovation  by combining its expertise with such a reference partner as Microsoft to unlock new markets, including on-orbit climate data processing to better protect our planet. The global memorandum of understanding strengthens our relationship with Microsoft, on the path to digital space”.
Tom Keane, Corporate Vice President, Mission Engineering of Microsoft added: “After our initial collaboration to embed DeeperVision software in Azure Space, we are taking another step forward with Thales Alenia Space by demonstrating on-orbit compute running on the Microsoft Cloud.  Doing so offers immediate practical applications for climate change research, and opens the door to opportunities that extend well beyond space.”

More about the Space Edge Computing demonstration onboard the ISS

Thales Alenia Space will deploy a space hardened edge computing payload running Azure onboard the International Space Station. Thales Alenia Space in Spain will be responsible for the payload development and delivery to the ISS, while Microsoft will be responsible for the on-orbit software framework and space software development kit (SDK). The on-orbit testbed will include on-board computing hardware developed by Thales Alenia Space in Spain as well as data collection sensor systems. This demonstration will enable application developers to easily develop and deploy Earth observation data processing applications on a real functional environment, at the crossing of space and cloud worlds.

About Thales Alenia Space
Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2021 and has around 8,900 employees in 10 countries with 17 sites in Europe and a plant in the US.

Thales Alenia Space Press Contacts:

Sandrine Bielecki   
+33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

Catherine des Arcis
+33 (0)4 92 92 72 82