Breaking New Ground with AWS Ground Station

When we started ATLAS Space Operations in 2015, we set out with a clear vision: to disrupt the satellite communications industry. We knew that the data pipe to space goes through ground stations (antennas on Earth) – and to capture that information, satellite operators needed affordable, dependable, and secure software that performs the bulk of Earth-orbit connection to pull data from space. As the market evolved, it was clear that each provider had different solutions focused on their antennas. The only problem was that it was difficult to create a ground network that could cover all the needs of current and future satellites; operators needed more locations on the globe. The solution, as we saw it, was clear: ATLAS would become the simplest and most feature-rich Ground Software as a Service (GSaaS) provider for satellite communications.

Our Approach

ATLAS made the strategic decision to integrate our own antennas and as many third-party antennas into our Freedom™ software as possible. The first hurdle that we had to overcome was the abstraction of ground station hardware. Freedom had to be able to manage unique missions from different clients, while maintaining a unified interface. This was never as easy as it sounded, but the as-a-Service business model has been proven time and again by companies like Airbnb, Netflix, and Uber. The satellite communications industry should be no different.

We persisted.

Since we began the federation of global antenna networks through our proprietary software, ATLAS has integrated site hardware from:

Freedom Platform Overview Brochure Snippet
  • Seven different antenna vendors (Comtech, Orbital, and Orbit Systems, to name a few)
  • Five baseband vendors
  • Four up/downconverters
  • Numerous RF switches, HPAs, digitizers, and more

Most importantly, our customers connect to a single cloud API to schedule antenna time, perform telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C), receive metrics and data to make decisions quickly, and real-time status messages. When the hardware changes, the API remains the same. The end result is that when ATLAS scales, so do our clients, with no new development or hardware to deploy.

Joining Forces with AWS Ground Station

When Amazon Web Services (AWS) first announced their entry into satellite communications with AWS Ground Station, we saw it as an opportunity to advance our federated network and expand ground station coverage for our clients. With our industry expertise, proprietary software, and quick onboarding, we have been able to assume the technical steps required to fully integrate customers onto AWS Ground Station, meaning ATLAS handles all orchestration of cloud resources required to receive data from a satellite, meanwhile AWS Ground Station provides customers with low-latency and low-cost access to AWS services so that they can quickly store and process their data.

Once the ATLAS and AWS fit was established, the path was simple. ATLAS recently became the first provider to join the AWS Solution Provider Program (SSP). This means ATLAS, as part of the Amazon Partner Network, is an authorized reseller of AWS services to end customers. To become a Preferred Partner, the process included AWS thoroughly vetting our architecture and overall solution from a security and best practices perspective.

AWS Partner Select Tier Services

What does this mean for ATLAS?

ATLAS now offers time on all AWS Ground Station antennas through our Freedom Ground Software as a Service™. This allows ATLAS to scale our offering while maintaining our high level of security (NIST 180-171) across an expanded ground network. With the addition of AWS Ground Station, ATLAS now offers far greater options when scheduling downlink minutes for a client’s satellite or constellation.

What does this mean for ATLAS Clients?

Integrate once, access everything.

Existing clients do not need to take additional steps beyond initial verification (licensing, frequency, etc.) since Freedom handles all hardware and software orchestration. In other words, the Freedom API stays exactly the same, but adds more options for downlinking your data. Clients can rely on ATLAS, with hundreds of thousands of successful passes across 41 different sites, to execute simply and reliably.

New clients can approach ATLAS with their satellite orbits and, with greater certainty, meet their latency requirements with quick onboarding and a single provider with access to a federated global network. By eliminating the need for high-cost technical teams, and the need to construct an antenna network, clients can focus on their resources and mission.

A single company is not likely to be able to build enough global coverage to meet the needs of Space 2.0. The future of satellite communications will require users to execute repeated integrations as the number of ground-side providers increases. Alternatively, ATLAS’ clients only integrate once and use our network as a conduit to access a global federated network of antennas. Hence, avoid further integrations as well as avoid added costs even as the network grows.

Are you ready to get to market faster, with lower complexity? Connect with our team today to employ our integration-friendly gateway, Freedom™, to receive access to a growing federated global network.

Brad Bode

Brad Bode

CTO & Co-Founder of ATLAS Space Operations

Spread the awesome news!

Explore More News & Updates

Making Space for Software

The space industry is a complex and rapidly evolving domain, where multiple factors must come together to launch a satellite successfully into orbit. Manufacturers, providers, infrastructure, partners, funding, and various other elements contribute to space missions. Often overlooked in this process is the critical aspect of “phoning home,” or communicating with satellites once they are in space.

Read More »