Amazon Launches Space Division

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, tests communications systems before the first flight of the New Shepard space vehicle.

Amazon Web Services launched a new business segment last week dedicated to serving the aerospace and satellite industry. This follows other aerospace moves this year by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ privately owned Blue Origin, including a Blue Origin rocket engine production facility that opened in Huntsville in February.

Amazon Web Services said it plans for the new business division to re-imagine space system architectures, transform space enterprises, launch new services that process space data on Earth and in orbit, and provide cloud solutions to support government and commercial space missions.

“Amazon Web Services stands ready to help remove the limits of connecting space to Earth communications, and we’re excited to help reimagine how organizations around the world access, operate, explore and further discover space in order to build a better world,” the company’s press release announced.

The company said the new Aerospace and Satellite Solutions business segment will have a fourfold mission to:

  • Reimagine space system architectures.
  • Transform space enterprises.
  • Launch new services that process space data on Earth and in orbit.
  • Provide secure, flexible, scalable and cost-efficient cloud solutions to support government missions and companies advancing space around the world.

The new division will be led by retired U.S. Air Force General Clint Crosier, former director of Space Force Planning at the U.S. Space Force.

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“We find ourselves in the most exciting time in space since the Apollo missions,” said Maj. Gen. Crosier. “I have watched AWS transform the IT industry over the last 10 years and be instrumental in so many space milestones. I am honored to join AWS to continue to transform the industry and propel the space enterprise forward.”

The company quotes welcoming comments by executives at Lockheed Martin Space, Geollect and Maxar.

“With a background in cloud computing, it’s exciting to see Amazon Web Services extend that experience to space, fostering collaborations with Lockheed Martin to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. “Lockheed Martin’s innovation focus is driven by tomorrow’s space missions. We’ve supported missions to every planet, participated in every U.S. Mars mission and built hundreds of satellites, from GPS to weather. Together, we share a vision to help our customers access data faster, and gain new insights from sensors in space that make data even more accessible.”

In February, Blue Origin, the privately owned aerospace company Bezos founded in 2014, opened a rocket manufacturing facility in Huntsville. The 350,000-square-foot plant, located in Cummings Research Park, is expected to eventually employ more than 300 people, with the first 200 jobs in 2020.

In its earthbound mission, Amazon on March 29 opened a fulfillment center in Bessemer at the dawn of Alabama’s reported rise in Covid-19 crisis and the closure by a governor’s order of most retail stores deemed “nonessential.” Declared “essential” by the federal government, the order did not apply to the new Amazon facility, which is expected to employ 1,500 workers.

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