ST. LOUIS — Earth observation company Satellogic announced Oct. 6 it will be using Amazon’s ground station service to control its satellites and download data from space.

Satellogic founder Emiliano Kargieman and Amazon Web Services’ director of aerospace and space Clinton Crosier announced the agreement at the 2021 GEOINT Symposium.

The deal with Satellogic is a significant win for AWS which competes with cloud rival Microsoft Azure for space industry customers that operate constellations. Satellogic has 17 commercial satellites in low Earth orbit and plans to grow its constellation to more than 300 by 2025. 

Amazon’s ground station is a managed service that allows satellite operations to ingest satellite data and integrate it with apps and other data on the AWS cloud. The service has attracted startups and commercial players that don’t want to invest in their own ground infrastructure. Operators only pay AWS for the capacity they use. 

Imagery and geospatial data providers need large-scale cloud computing. Satellogic is creating a live catalog of the Earth and delivering daily updates. Each spacecraft generates as much as 50 gigabytes of data daily, the company said.

The amount of imagery downlinked is expected to grow 10-fold, “driving the need to spin up ground station infrastructure and then scale it back down when resources are not needed,” Satellogic said in a statement. 

Growth in government market

Satellogic was founded in 2010 in Argentina, and is headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has offices in several countries. It is now expanding in the United States and Canada.

In July Satellogic announced it plans to go public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company CF Acquisition Corp. V – a SPAC sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald. The transaction is expected to be completed early in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

Matt Tirman, president of Satellogic North America, told SpaceNews that the partnership with AWS marks another step in the company’s expansion into the commercial and government markets. Satellogic’s imagery and data analytics services starting this week are being offered on GSA Advantage, an online service used by government agencies to buy commercial products and services. 

“They can buy our imagery right off of a pre-approved rate schedule and pre-approved licensing agreement,” Tirman said. 

Space-based full-motion video is another market segment Satellogic is pursuing. Each of the company’s satellites produces multispectral and hyperspectral imagery, and full motion video. 

“We can get a 60 second clip at about 10 frames per second,” he said. Video from space could be used as an alternative to aerial drones to monitor areas, develop change detection models or track targets on the ground. 

“Where this gets super intriguing is when we start putting up 60 to 200 more satellites over the next 24 to 36 months,” he said. “When you have all of these different passes over an area, being able to do multiple full-motion video collects, you’re going to be able to string together some really interesting time series models.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...