Microsoft, Ball Aerospace Team for Space Force Data Flow
May 19, 2021
Ball Aerospace, in collaboration with Microsoft, successfully completed
a series of demonstrations showing the viability of using commercial
cloud computing to process and securely deliver actionable information
quickly to those who need it, whether they are in a ground station,
command center or on the battlefield.
Enabled by the Defense Innovation Unit's (DIU) fast-paced commercial
solutions process, the demonstrations support the United States Space
Force Space and Missile Systems Center's (SMC) Commercially Augmented
Space Inter-Networked Operations (CASINO) Program Office, which serves
as the SMC focal point for proliferated Low Earth Orbit (LEO) technology
scale, resilience: In the majority of test scenarios,
data was captured, processed, and re-deployed, on average, 5x
faster than the customerís established target speed. The
architecture created a scalable model which allowed for multiple
processing chains. Re-deployment and ready-to-go failover were
achieved with no capital expenditure costs.
Event-driven architecture: The system was built in a
flexible and scalable way, making it easy to replace or add
algorithms without major change to the production system.
Cloud-native: The system was built in Azure and worked
at the Azure edge. This construction significantly reduced
development time, created predictable resiliency, reduced
resource demands, increased compliance, and provided clear
financial insight for rapid scaling.
Continuous integration and deployment of AI and machine
learning: Fast, repeatable, and traceable. The raw data
captured by the satellites could be saved and worked on in the
background, continuously improving the AI and machine learning
Infrastructure as a code: Scripts were generated to
deploy the required infrastructure into Azure at any datacenter,
providing the ability to quickly adjust resources as required.
"Our tests showed that the cloud is, in fact, a viable solution for data
processing, exploitation and dissemination of data that is not only
fast, but also flexible, secure, scalable and resilient," said Steve
Smith, vice president and general manager, Systems Engineering
Solutions, Ball Aerospace. "For years, the military has envisioned an
agile and connected force structure. During the demonstration, the
CASINO team proved that we are ready to field low-latency links today,
which moves this vision much closer to reality."
For the demonstrations, simulated data from Overhead Persistent Infrared
(OPIR) was pushed to Microsoft's AZURE cloud where it was processed
using Ball-developed event-driven architecture, and then disseminated to
multiple end points. In the final demonstration, Telesat joined the
Ball-Microsoft team to successfully complete a direct downlink of data
from its network of LEO satellites to a Ball-built electronically
steerable Ka-Band phased array affixed to a tactical vehicle in order to
prove that actionable information could be delivered to the warfighter
in the field.
satellite-to-cloud communication and accelerated ground data processing
allows the Department of Defense to gain advanced analytics capabilities
enabling predictive modelling and new actionable insights capable of
reshaping the future as they advance their mission," said Tom Keane,
corporate vice president, Azure Global, Microsoft. "By combining
satellite data with other sources directly in Azure, the Microsoft-Ball
Aerospace team has demonstrated an innovative approach for ground
processing which also opens the possibilities for a huge range of
Ball Aerospace has more than 30 years of data processing experience,
including developing unique and accurate exploitation algorithms for
satellite systems. Ball also has five decades of experience delivering
electronically-steered phased array, antenna solutions for commercial,
military and government customers and two decades experience delivering
flat panel antennas and terminals.
Powered by endlessly curious people with an unwavering mission focus,
Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform
beyond expectation and protect what matters most. We create innovative
space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive
insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and
intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely
and return home safely.