Earth containing blue regions viewed from space

Earlier today, Microsoft announced the development of its latest U.S. datacenter region centered in the state of Georgia. Last week, meanwhile, the tech giant rolled out Azure Quantum in public preview. Today, Microsoft has unveiled a new team-up with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), with the primary mission of connecting Azure directly to space.

What this means exactly is that by utilizing HPE's upcoming Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2), the Redmond firm is set to deliver Azure workloads on the International Space Station (ISS). This will make it the first time the ISS will be able to leverage both edge computing and AI capabilities together.

With Microsoft Research and Azure Space engineering teams delving in collaboration, new and advanced machine learning models are currently in the process of creation, alongside evaluation of the potential of HPE's processing with hyperscale Azure. The aforementioned models include:

  • Weather modeling of dust storms to enable future modeling for Mars missions.
  • Plant and hydroponics analysis to support food growth and life sciences in space.
  • Medical imaging using an ultrasound on the ISS to support astronaut healthcare.

Notably, the connection between the SBC-2 and Azure will fully leverage the power of the hyperscale cloud to perform hugely complex analysis at the edge, aiming to tackle the challenges in advanced processing.

HPE's Spaceborne Computer-2 is scheduled to launch into orbit for the ISS on February 20. The aforementioned research endeavors will be sponsored by the ISS National Labs for the next two to three years. Microsoft believes that its latest advancement will help push Azure AI and ML to space on a different level than before.