Amazon Launches AWS Space Startup Accelerator

By Bruce Harpham Saturday, April 10, 2021

Amazon has launched an accelerator program focused on space startup companies. The AWS (Amazon Web Services) Space Accelerator program is a four-week program open to any space startup company using AWS technology to solve space problems. The deadline for a company to apply for the program is April 21, 2021. The initial program is open to ten space startup companies.

Space view of Earth and a sunrise.

“We are proud to announce the AWS Space Accelerator as part of our ongoing commitment to help startups succeed and to shape the future of aerospace. We look forward to helping the first cohort of companies launch and grow through this new program,” said Clint Crosier, director of aerospace and satellite at AWS, in a statement. Before joining the company, Clint Crosier served in the US Air Force.

The space accelerator business program is part of a growing business strategy to emphasize space and aerospace. In June 2020, Amazon created a dedicated company division to focus on space projects and business customers. The business unit offers “AWS Ground Station” infrastructure so that a company can save the expense of establishing its own ground station.

What Startup Companies in the Space Accelerator Gain

Planned for June 2021, the AWS Space Accelerator program provides several types of support. Each startup company may receive up to $100,000 in AWS Activate credit (i.e., access to Amazon Web Services services). In addition, the business program gives access to the AWS Partner Network and space experts. Finally, the business program also provides access to investors.

Amazon has run accelerator programs to help startup companies for several years. In 2020, Amazon launched a business program for companies in Korea. The Amazon business program aims to build companies in the fintech, logistics, and AI sectors. In cooperation with the Korean government, the program included up to ₩300 million ($268,000) in grants.

Amazon Technology Goes to Space

While Amazon is best known to customers as an ecommerce service that delivers products, the company is also a significant technology provider. Capella Space, a business that provides Earth observation data, uses Amazon technology to run its systems. By using AWS technology, Capella can obtain and process data from satellites more quickly. Based in California, Capella Space has more than one hundred employees. It is the first US company to launch and operate commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites. These satellites provide high-resolution images of weather patterns.

Amazon technology is also playing a role in space exploration. Perseverance, a NASA rover that landed on Mars in February 2021, uses Amazon technology. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) uses AWS cloud services to collect and process data from Mars more quickly. In addition, NASA uses AWS to support the public-facing Mars mission website. Furthermore, Amazon has been working with NASA on the Perseverance mission for over five years.

Amazon Competes With Blue Origin

Amazon’s growing emphasis on space technology is no accident. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, started a Blue Origin space company in 2000. Blue Origin started years before Amazon developed its technology business. Unlike companies with satellite-focused business models like Capella Space, Blue Origin is focused on bringing humans to space. For instance, Blue Origin offers space trips to customers. The space company is also working on going to the Moon.

About the Author


Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

Related Articles