Microsoft unveils space program for Aussie start-ups

For cloud-powered innovation

Microsoft have launched a program to get Australian space start-ups that have cloud-based innovations into space, while also developing tools for their Azure cloud platform.

The program, named Microsoft for Space Startups Australia, will provide eligible Australian space start-ups with Microsoft Azure credits as well as access to technologies, and connect them with technical specialists and mentors.

Australian start-ups have set their sights on developing a range of innovations for space, from orbital satellites to the computers that power them, each hoping to tap a global space industry worth AU$450 billion. 

Developing Australia’s space technology industry now, is thought to be essential for the country to take advantage a space industry that will be worth AU$1.3 trillion by 2040, analysts say.

These companies’ innovations could benefit Australia in a number of industries, such as Australia’s geospatial and meteorological sciences. For example, they could be used to make detecting bushfires easier, or assist with climate change predictions.

Office of Planetary Observation's (OPO) AI platform is currently in beta. Credit: Office of Planetary Observations
Office of Planetary Observation's (OPO) AI platform is currently in beta.

Microsoft will benefit from the partnerships by developing an ecosystem of space partners and by developing Azure technologies that connect with them. One of these technologies, Azure Orbital, has already been developed. This enables customers to connect directly to satellites through Microsoft Azure.

Aussie space startups, Office of Planetary Observations (OPO) and Spiral Blue, have taken up Microsoft’s help becoming the first start-ups to be part of the initiative.

Spiral Blue are building The Space Edge Computer – an on-board computer for Earth observation satellites that can process images on the satellites as they are collected. This innovation should overcome the bandwidth limitations satellites face having to send these images back to Earth for processing. 

Meanwhile, Office of Planetary Observations are developing an AI infused platform that sources satellite data and provides topographical and climate-based insights for landscape architects and town planners to promote urban greening.

Aussie space start-ups can apply to be part of the program here