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Amazon Aerospace and Satellite Solutions: Integrating Satellites and Terrestrial Services

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inspects New Shepard’s West Texas launch facility before the rocket’s maiden voyage. (Photo: BLUE ORIGIN)

At this time, Musk has a clear lead in launch technology, and Bezos has superior terrestrial resources and is building the infrastructure to connect them to space.

Since its founding, Amazon has reinvested profit in building infrastructure. They began with retail sales and distribution infrastructure and later added Amazon Web Services (AWS), providing data center and hosting infrastructure. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also established Blue Origin, a company to provide satellite launch service and eventually to support space travel. Last year Amazon filed an application for a 3,236-satellite constellation of low-earth orbit Internet service satellites—Project Kuiper.

Soon after filing the Project Kuiper application, AWS announced a new satellite ground station service, establishing a link between the two companies and now they have announced the formation of AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions. Aerospace and Satellite Solutions (I can’t bring myself to type “AWS ASS”) does not add new physical infrastructure but will be marketing and assisting on the design and implementation of complex space/terrestrial systems.

Organizations from space startups to government agencies like NASA and DOD should be able to save time and cost by building their applications on top of this integrated infrastructure. Recognizing the lucrative government market, Amazon has hired retired U.S. Air Force Major General Clinton Crosier, who was most recently the Director of Space Force Planning, to head the AWS Aerospace and Satellite Solutions. (Hiring General Crosier might also help Amazon in their battle with Microsoft over a ten-billion dollar Pentagon cloud services contract).

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos share a common goal—making homo sapiens a space-faring, multi-planet species. Bezos stated that goal in his high-school valedictorian speech and believes that it is imperative that we do so because humanity is growing too fast and using too much energy to be sustainable in the long run and the SpaceX Web site states that “SpaceX’s family of launch vehicles and spacecraft were designed from the beginning to take humans to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

They both also have plans for an interim step of establishing broadband Internet-service constellations—Musk’s Starlink and Bezos’ Project Kuiper. At this point in time, Musk has a clear lead in launch technology, and Bezos has superior terrestrial resources and is building the infrastructure to connect them to space. Bezos and Musk could move faster toward their shared goal by collaborating, with SpaceX launching Project Kuiper satellites and Starlink satellites using AWS’s terrestrial services. I don’t know about Bezos, but Musk seems to be willing to share a market in pursuit of a long-range goal.

By Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

He has been on the faculties of the University of Lund, Sweden and the University of Southern California, and worked for IBM and the System Development Corporation. Larry maintains a blog on Internet applications and implications at cis471.blogspot.com and follows Cuban Internet development at laredcubana.blogspot.com.

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