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The US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has chosen Ball Aerospace and Microsoft to develop a prototype that will demonstrate agile Cloud-processing capabilities.

Ball Aerospace and Microsoft will present the capabilities in support of the US Air Force’s Commercially Augmented Space Inter-Networked Operations (CASINO) project.

Using Microsoft’s Azure Cloud and Ball Aerospace algorithms, the companies will showcase the ability to process worldwide data streams from large, distributed constellations of small satellites.

Ball Aerospace will use a phased array antenna to extract data from satellites directly into a Microsoft data centre.

The project will test how effectively Ball Aerospace can use the Azure as the Cloud platform for the CASINO project.

Ball Aerospace systems engineering solutions vice-president and general manager Steve Smith said: “Together with Microsoft, we will show how this type of data processing system, which leverages Ball phased array technology and imagery exploitation algorithms in Azure, is flexible and scalable, designed to support additional satellites and processing capabilities in the future.

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“Overall, this type of data processing in the Cloud can provide actionable, relevant information quickly and more cost-effectively to the end-user.”

The partnership will leverage the Azure platform’s features such as integrated Cloud services, data processing and advanced analytics and Microsoft’s expertise in data protection, security and privacy.

Microsoft Azure global corporate vice-president Tom Keane said: “Essentially, this is the ultimate intelligent edge scenario, where massive amounts of data must be processed at the edge, whether that edge is in space or on the ground.

“This partnership with Ball Aerospace enables us to bring satellite data to ground and cloud faster than ever, leapfrogging other solutions on the market.

“Our joint innovation in direct satellite-to-Cloud communication and accelerated data processing provides the Department of Defense, including the Air Force, with entirely new capabilities to explore as they continue to advance their mission.”

Microsoft noted that the tactical units in the field could potentially benefit from the availability of data in Azure, even in disconnected scenarios.

Customers can direct the data to where it is needed.