AWS re:Invent Recap — AWS Ground Station as a Service(Wednesday 2018–11–28)

Note: I am going to post the blogs out of order, the next being the summary of security sessions that I attended on Tuesday. They were extremely interesting, interrelated security sessions that I would like to synthesize into something more consumable.

Today, beyond attending the re:Invent 2018 keynote in one of the spillover rooms, I attended a session on Amazon Neptune and one on the recently released AWS Ground Station as a Service. I won’t deal with Neptune in this blog as I want to look into the service and the associated tools and then perhaps put something together — targeting newbies like myself.

Introducing AWS Ground Station — Fully managed Ground Station as a Service


  • Lowell Hawthorne — General Manager

AWS Summary

Have you ever wanted to set up your own Ground Station so as to tap into satellite data and then batch or stream said data into your own AWS environment? No, well, neither have I. But now with the advent of this service it becomes an option.

From the above link, here is how the service is supposed to work at a high level:

Customer Challenges:

Lowell outlined the major complaints that customers have brought to him in regarding setting up their ground stations:

  • Expensive to build and difficult to maintain their own ground stations.
  • Require high capital expenditure investment to scale
  • experience network latency and scheduling conflicts
  • have opaque pricing

AWS Ground Station as a Service (GSaaS) — IN PREVIEW

AWS’ answer to the customers’ needs. Major points from the presentation include:

  • There will be an onboarding process, to ensure that not just anyone can access the infrastructure. This is to allay concerns of those who own the satellite.
  • No ground station infrastructure commitments.
  • Usage-based, per-minute pricing. Reserved minutes also an option to decrease costs.
  • Self-service schedulting.
  • 12 ground stations collocated with AWS Regions (in 2019)
  • Direct access to AWS services, infrastructure and global network.
  • Provide 2 different data rates — likened to the difference between 4G (low data rate) and 5G (high data rate).
  • Each ground station will have two antennas for redundancy.
  • Propagation and Location Sync Service — give predictions about availability of satellite.


  • Supported orbits: Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)
  • Supported frequencies: simultaneous narrowband S-band, X-band, UHF downlink.
  • 2 ground stations — Oregon and Ohio

General Availability in 2019

  • Supported orbits: Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)
  • Supported frequencies at Launch: simultaneous narrowband S-band, X-band, UHF downlink and uplink.
  • Global coverage from 12 regions

Use Cases

During the session Lowell canvassed a couple of the use cases that are envisaged or already in play for customers. Below are three with the associated AWS image outlining how it is envisaged that it will work:

  • Natural Disaster Response.
  • Accurate Weather Prediction
  • Business Trends Assessment

Also, if you like a bit of ML in your life have a gander, squiz or even a look at Charles Sutikno’s article about Machine Learning at the Edge.

Speaking of which have a look at Marat Levit’s round up of today’s releases here.