A Future in Orbit (2): Edge in Space

Sfera Technologies and Exodus Orbitals will partner in the deployment of edge in space solutions

Sfera Technologies
4 min readJul 14, 2022

We’ve already talked a lot about space data and its potential to radically transform the global economy. However, the current paradigm is that the bulk of our data infrastructures sit here, on our home planet, and receive the data through ground stations scattered across the globe.

The challenges here are roughly similar for any kind of data — you need to connect points A-Z and form a network; you need good connectivity to ensure the data is carried efficiently; you need data centers, power supply and proper interfacing.

But what if the space segment could play a bigger role in this equation? What if satellites themselves became points of processing for data? What if we could establish edge computing frameworks comprising entire constellations of satellites packing powerful hardware? How would this change our current paradigm, and what opportunities would it open?

We have partnered with Exodus Orbitals to dive into this rabbit hole — and create radically new solutions to some of the challenges of Earth-based data delivery infrastructures.

Sfera Technologies and Exodus Orbitals to collaborate on space and ground segment applications

Exodus Orbitals and Sfera Technologies will work together on deploying prototype software in orbit. Sfera Technologies is working on an array of space-based software solutions for data management and scalability — and Exodus Orbitals will provide an early platform for these prototypes.

Exodus Orbitals’ satellite platform will allow seamless deployment and operations of third-party software applications in space in the same manner as it is currently possible with mobile, embedded or web applications on Earth.

Deployment on Exodus’ satellite will help Sfera to test and fast-track its software architecture to future mass deployment on large satellite constellations, providing unique services in security, data delivery optimization and data management.

Sfera Technologies and Exodus Orbitals’ collaboration will pioneer applications that assist with seamless integration of ground and space segments.

So, what is edge computing in space and why compute in orbit?

An intersection of computing and space creates an opportunity to create another “edge” in the global cloud of processing capabilities that can become another platform for third-party software applications.

Traditionally, a satellite’s onboard computing and data processing subsystem was servicing the need of one specific mission and only one operations team. We propose to open up the satellites for the software developer community that can express their ideas in the domain — something that was previously very difficult to access to outsiders.

Computing resources available in space will enable completely new approaches to how we handle data. Edge computing in space will allow:

● To reduce downlink volumes to optimize EO data product delivery. This is in line with Sfera’s strategy to promote and build decentralized ecosystems and infrastructures to deliver EO data efficiently to all possible stakeholders. Edge computing in space is a key enabler of flexible data delivery channels, taking away some of the burden of terrestrial infrastructures and aiding the diversification of current Earth-based data infrastructures.

● Unlimited access to instrument data during normal satellite operations. As software on onboard computer have direct access to the payload subsystem, there is no limitation on how much data they can process. That allows algorithms to exploit from simple frame stacking to potentially infinite amounts of ML-specific tasks.

● Efficient sharing of satellite resources between different applications using the same type of instrument. For example, some of the customers can be operating their apps over open ocean and some over specific land areas, without interfering with each other.

● Help with development of reliable tools to seamlessly integrate space and ground segments, using on-satellite edge computing capability to simulate contacts with ground infrastructure.

In order to encourage growth of the ecosystem of space companies focusing on the intersection of computing and space, Edge Computing in Space Alliance (ECSA) was founded between a number of companies working on variety of software and hardware products. Several online events have been held, focusing on the platform and applications for in-space processing.

As members of ECSA, Sfera Technologies and Exodus Orbitals will establish a long-term cooperation on prototyping and deploying a variety of software solutions in a space environment.

The next steps

To enhance its terrestrial data delivery architecture, Sfera Technologies will use Exodus Orbitals’ upcoming satellite platform to test and deploy prototype applications optimizing data delivery streams and security frameworks. As part of this deployment, Sfera Technologies will engage the ground station network integrated with its HomePort platform; the prototype applications will be the first milestone of a long-term development roadmap for a data delivery infrastructure for a new era.

Zdravko Dimitrov, founder of Sfera Technologies, said:

“This collaboration with Exodus Orbitals and our participation in ECSA open a new chapter in our quest to make space data more accessible to everyone. Exodus Orbitals’ platform will provide us with an environment to securely and reliably test our initial applications before rolling them out on a constellation scale. Our companies share an out-of-the-box mentality when it comes to implementing specific solutions, and it’s a pleasure to be working with Exodus on building a new generation of space software.”

Dennis Silin, founder of Exodus Orbitals:

“We are building a new and exciting way to access in-space compute and instrument capabilities without the complexity and costs usually associated with satellites launch and operations. Our collaboration with Sfera Technologies will leverage advantages of this approach and help other ambitious companies to express their ideas in commercial space exploration.”

HomePort by Sfera Technologies: https://homeport.network/

Exodus Orbitals: https://exodusorbitals.com/