Aerospace & Defense

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Amazon Activates Satellite Ground Station Biz in Ohio and Oregon

28 May, 2019


Amazon has started service at its first two satellite ground station sites. Ground stations in Ohio and Oregon mark the first of a planned 12 stations spread out globally to enable communication with satellites, allowing operators to downlink data such as imagery and weather. The stations also enable operators to control their satellites.The next 10 ground stations are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
 
Amazone Web Services (AWS) is locating ground stations near its data storage centers, which provides customers with quick access to Amazon’s cloud services. AWS ground station customers can process their data, run analytics and leverage machine learning algorithms through the Amazon cloud.
 
In an interview with Space News, Shayn Hawthorne, general manager of AWS Ground Station, said customer demand drove the decision to start service with two stations. The next 10 are under construction now and will be complete by the end of the year, he said.
 
Hawthorne told Space News AWS is completing regulatory licensing for ground stations in each country where it plans to build antennas. If prospective customers reach out to AWS about using its ground stations, AWS will “immediately” include them in its ground station license to pave the way for that customer, he said.
 
Over the next 10 years, AWS plans to expand to the “equivalent” of dish 200 antennas, Hawthorne told Space News, so it can provide communication services to more spacecraft. Like other ground station companies, AWS is evaluating new technologies more advanced than today’s dish antennas, which can only connect to one satellite at a time.
 
Many companies, including KSAT, Atlas Space Operations and Lockheed Martin are exploring the use of electronically steered antennas for ground stations, which while capable of multiple simultaneous connections, are also considerably more expensive. Hawthorne avoided mentioning electronically steered antennas as an interest of AWS, saying the company is intrigued by “varieties of technologies that we think would enable multi-access to satellites.”
 
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