Amazon and Axiom Space Remotely Operate AWS Snowcone on the International Space Station (ISS)

AWS Snowcone on the International Space Station


Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a recent collaboration with Axiom Space. Together, they are developing a more efficient way to analyze data from the Axiom Mission 1 (known as the Ax-1, the first all-private mission to the ISS) via Amazon’s AWS Snowcone SSD. Ax-1 is the first of several private space missions to ISS planned by Axiom Space, with the ultimate goal of building the first commercial space station.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a recent collaboration with Axiom Space. Together, they are developing a more efficient way to analyze data from the Axiom Mission 1 (known as the Ax-1, the first all-private mission to the ISS) via Amazon’s AWS Snowcone SSD. Ax-1 is the first of several private space missions to ISS planned by Axiom Space, with the ultimate goal of building the first commercial space station.

AWS Snowcone on the International Space Station

Bandwidth is seriously contained on space stations due to the limited available infrastructure, which makes sending data and imagery astronauts attain back to the surface for processing arduous. While this only presents a minor inconvenience while orbiting just above the Earth, this will eventually cause serious problems when space expeditions start to venture much further (such as missions to Mars). There will be considerably longer delays due to the vast distance and the massive amount of data that will be transmitted back to Earth and then back to a spacecraft again. Amazon aims to help solve this.

At Amazon re:MARS 2022, AWS announced the joint Axiom Space-AWS team has successfully communicated remotely with the Snowcone on the ISS and also demonstrated the repeatable ability to perform edge processing on space-based datasets. This is a significant accomplishment, as it is the first time AWS has remotely operated a general-purpose edge processing and storage device on the ISS.

One of the main objectives of the Ax-1 mission is scientific research. Axiom private astronauts are working as many as 14 hours a day on 25 different research investigations and technology demonstrations, including the AWS Snowcone. Microgravity experiments (that is, experiments that are not possible within the gravity of Earth), such as modeling tumor organoids for cancer research, are generating a plethora of imagery and data that must be both cataloged and analyzed. In addition, on-board experiment photos must be “screened for sensitive information”. This research activity results in terabytes of data every day.

The AWS Snowcone SSD is an ideal solution for this, offering edge processing capabilities with multiple layers of encryption—all in a simple, ultra-portable form. During a 7-month process, AWS worked with Axiom and NASA to ensure the Amazon storage device can be safely sent to the ISS. This meant putting the device through NASA’s rigorous safety review process, including detailed thermal analysis and a range of laboratory tests that simulated random vibrations of both a rocket during launch and the spacecraft during flight.

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