Data center in Thales Space Study

Data center in Thales Space Study

The search for the ideal data center location continues, as the European Commission seeks to explore the feasibility of data centers in space.

Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67 percent) and Leonardo (33 percent), Announce that he has been chosen by the European Commission to lead the feasibility study of ASCEND (Advanced Space Cloud for European Zero Emissions and Data Sovereignty) for data centers on orbit.

Choosing the ideal location to build a data center has led to server farms being built in some extraordinary locations over the past decade, including under the oceanin British And the Norwegian Mines and caves, and in North Pole Regions.

Google’s data center in Hamina, Finland. Image credit: Google

data centers in space

Data center facilities built at these locations seek to take advantage of the local environment (usually for cooling purposes).

It comes with an extension The environmental footprint of data centers It remains a challenge, as the world’s rapid digitization means that data centers in Europe and beyond are growing at an accelerated pace, which in turn affects energy and the environment.

Now a consortium led by Thales Alenia Space has been created to find an ambitious solution for Europe, which is to install data center stations in orbit.

These “fuzzy” data centers will be powered by solar power plants generating several hundred megawatts.

The European Commission is exploring whether such projects can help achieve the goal of the Green Deal in Europe Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

This data center in the space concept makes direct use of energy produced in space outside the Earth’s atmosphere: the only link to Earth will be high-throughput Internet connections based on optical communications, a technology by which Europe has mastered the basic technologies, Thales noted.

For the ASCEND feasibility study, Thales Alenia Space leads a group of companies with a portfolio of exports including environment (Carbone 4, VITO); cloud computing (Orange, CloudFerro, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Belgium); launch vehicles (ArianeGroup); and orbital systems (DLR, Airbus Defense and Space and Thales Alenia Space).

The first goal of the study is to assess whether the carbon emissions from the production and launch of these space infrastructures will be significantly lower than the emissions from ground-based data centers.

The second objective will be to prove that it is possible to develop the required launch solution and ensure the deployment and operation of these spaceborne data centers using robotic assistance technologies currently being developed in Europe, such as the EROSS IOD program.

According to Thales, “This project is expected to demonstrate the extent to which space data centers will limit the energy and environmental impact of their terrestrial counterparts, allowing significant investments within the scope of the European Green Deal, which may justify the development of more environmentally friendly and reusable heavy launch vehicles.”

Natick Project

Besides building data centers in remote caves and even in the Arctic, perhaps the most remote data center location to date has been under the ocean.

Microsoft has been at the forefront of this with Natick Project – Experience launching the Moon as part of Redmond’s bid to develop more environmentally sustainable data centers.

Microsoft first came up with the idea thanks to a former US Navy submariner who then worked for Microsoft. Presented a paper analyzing the potential of underwater data centers.

In late 2014, Microsoft began working on Project Natick, the idea being to build larger pods that could successfully host Microsoft cloud services such as Azure and Office 365.

in 2016 Microsoft sank its first data center from Project Natick off the coast of Seattle for four months.

That first phase of the Natick project showed that an underwater data center concept was feasible, while the second phase focused on researching whether the concept was practical from a logistical, environmental and economic standpoint.

The second phase began in June 2018 Microsoft has sunk its second data center under the sea near the Orkney IslandsThe Project Natick team then spent time monitoring and recording the performance of the subsea data center.

Then in July 2020 Microsoft This test concluded and lifted the data center under the sea from the bottom of the North Sea.

At the time, the results looked promising, with a subsea data center experiencing a lower failure rate than a traditional land-based data center.

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