AWS and Axiom show the future of commercial space exploration with AWS Snowcone

I had the honor of joining AWS ’re: Mars program in Las Vegas last week. Re Amazon: Mars is an Amazon event that means showcasing incredible work in the areas of machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics and space.

You can read my Amazon re: Mars preview coverage where I sat down with Rachel Thornton of AWS, Chief Marketing Officer and husband Shivasubramanian, VP of Database Analytics and Machine Learning, or you can watch the interview here at Moore Insights and Strader Episode here. Now I want to dive into how AWS and Axiom are working together for Power Edge computing and AWS Snowcon storage on the International Space Station.

Space as the last frontier

The next 100 years of space exploration will not be like the last 75 years of space exploration. Over the past half-century space efforts have been largely driven by politics and government. The drive to the moon was to defeat the Russians in the first place and NASA did it. If we look at space efforts today, many of them are driven by space possibilities from an economic and opportunistic perspective. I think this is a great possibility. Since humans first landed on the moon, the pace of public space exploration has slowed and slowed down due to private sector efforts.

The transition from public sector (NASA) to private sector space exploration reminds me a lot of today’s postal system (USPS). The United States Postal Service was born out of the need to quickly obtain information about thirteen colonies, including revolutionary remarks that needed to be preserved about the British. They were called the Correspondence Committee, then the Constitutional Center and finally, the United States, after the creation of the USPS. Over the years, although USPS is still used, companies like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon have gained expertise in the industry of delivering mail and packages in all 50 states and around the world. When I go back to space, the same business drives and capabilities that allow Amazon to excel in package delivery drives Amazon and other space exploration companies. Compared to sending parcels, space and final borders, it is a completely different animal.

The challenge of space trade

Space research is one of the main drivers of space companies like Amazon. Like any solution, research must come before creating a solution to the need to solve any challenge. Amazon solves data latency and bandwidth problems on Earth computers from space researchers. To solve this problem using AWS Snowcone, Amazon is working with companies like Axiom on Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1).

Axiom completed its first fully private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, which was an important milestone in Axiom’s efforts to build the first private space station, Axiom Station. Axiom says scientific research was an integral part of the Ax-1 mission, and it has conducted 25 research and technology presentations with special Axiom astronauts, including a demonstration with AWS Snowcone.

AWS AWS launched Snowcone two years ago as an addition to the Snow family. You can read my coverage of the AWS Snowcone announcement here. It basically enables advanced computing and data transmission in offline environments. It is quite a compact device, small enough to fit in a simple backpack and light enough to travel in space missions without a second thought. If anything, the perfect app to showcase the capabilities of a small and rugged device it has on the International Space Station. AWS Snowcone brings computing, storage, and networking capabilities to the International Space Station, and away from any ground-based facility, allows researchers to work without data beams on Earth.

When it comes to tackling the “ultimate frontier”, hardware like AWS Snowcone defines the forefront of technology in the space world. AWS Snowcone has gone through rigorous testing by NASA, including a safety review process, thermal analysis and missile simulation tests.

Like the cloud, space is full of data

I had the privilege of sitting down with Clint Krozier, the director of space and satellite at AWS, and she remembered how important it would be and would be to manage and transfer data from space. You can watch the full interview with Clint Cruiser in the special edition of Six and Five on the Way here.

Crozier explains how we live in an environment where space data will increase tenfold in the next half decade. As I said before, data is the digital gold of the future, and we are on the path to producing more, not less. When I think about how to get data into space, I think of the planet coefficient which takes data from the Earth’s image and analyzes that data across multiple industries.

The cloud is really good at turning data into digital gold. The problem that the space community is already facing is that the right problem is the need to manage and collect data. Incredibly, the cloud is an essential solution to our spatial challenges.

I think AWS is looking to the future and working with many space exploration companies to lay the groundwork for future space trade. The amount of applications and trades that can be made in the space leaves a lot of potential on the table. Imagine a future where fire is operated from space, and a fire can be detected as soon as the satellite image captures it in a matter of minutes. Imagine a future where a percentage of the crops produced on Earth grow in orbit, freeing up space on Earth. Imagine a piece of silicon in space. Also keep in mind that environmental differences in space, such as low gravity, make it easier to perform specific studies and experiments. There is a lot of unnecessary potential in space, and companies like AWS are using cloud and hardware like AWS Snowcone to make space exploration a reality.


While displaying AWS Snowcon on the International Space Station may not seem like a huge step for the space trade, it is an effective step in solving the data transmission problem in space. The collaboration between AWS and Axiom is the first major step we should see in the next two decades as trade and space exploration have become possible. The advancement of space exploration and trade has been made possible by advances in data centers, the cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and dedicated capital savings.

Note: Jacob Freeman, Moore Insights and Strategy Contributor Moore Insights and Strategy contributed to this article.

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