AWS sent edgy appliance to the ISS and it worked – just like all the other computers up there

Congrats, AWS, you’ve boldly gone where the Raspberry Pi has already been

Amazon Web Services has proudly revealed that the first completely private expedition to the International Space Station carried one of its Snowcone storage appliances, and that the device worked as advertised.

The Snowcone is a rugged shoebox-sized unit packed full of disk drives – specifically 14 terabytes of solid-state disk – a pair of VCPUs and 4GB of RAM. The latter two components mean the Snowcone can run either EC2 instances or apps written with AWS’s Greengrass IoT product. In either case, the idea is that you take a Snowcone into out-of-the-way places where connectivity is limited, collect data in situ and do some pre-processing on location. Once you return to a location where bandwidth is plentiful, it's assumed you'll upload the contents of a Snowcone into AWS and do real work on it there.

Alibaba Cloud challenges AWS with its own custom smartNIC


AWS sent this Snowcone aloft with the crewed Axiom Space mission to the ISS in April 2022. The four astronauts conducted a variety of experiments during their 17-day rotation, which stored data on the Snowcone.

AWS hardened the device to ensure it could survive the trip. Axiom and AWS were able to communicate with the device, which worked as intended and processed data it stored. The cloud colossus has hailed this achievement as proving that processing data on Snowcones can work even in edge locations as extreme as the ISS.

Which is true and yay and all. But let's not forget that the ISS houses myriad computers and has done for years. Running a computer up there does require a combination of rocket science and computer science, but humanity has already well and truly proven it can put them both to work on the space station.

Even for computers that are far more modest than an AWS Snowcone – such as the Raspberry Pi.

The Pi Foundation and the European Space Agency have sent several AstroPi machines to the ISS. Just like AWS, those units were prepared especially for the rigors of space travel and were used to run multiple workloads.

The Pi guys even revealed an updated design last year, and this week reported the two units sent aloft in late 2021 have now run 17,168 programs written by young people from 26 countries.

The Register leaves the decision about which is the more impressive and/or inspiring achievement to you. ®

Other stories you might like

  • NASA tricks Artemis launch computer by masking data showing a leak
    Plus it aborts ISS reboost. Not the greatest start to the week, was it?

    NASA engineers had to work fast to avoid another leak affecting the latest Artemis dry run, just hours after an attempt to reboost the International Space Station (ISS) via the Cygnus freighter was aborted following a few short seconds.

    The US space agency on Monday rolled the huge Artemis I stack back to its Florida launchpad having worked through the leaks and problems that had beset its previous attempt at fueling the beast in April for an earlier dress rehearsal of the final countdown.

    As propellant was loaded into the rocket, controllers noted a hydrogen leak in the quick-disconnect that attaches an umbilical from the tail service mast on the mobile launcher to the core stage of the rocket.

    Continue reading
  • NanoAvionics satellite pulls out GoPro to take stunning selfie over Earth
    Consumer-grade camera was refitted with custom housing and software to survive in the vacuum

    NanoAvionics has unveiled a 4K satellite selfie taken by a GoPro Hero 7 as the company's MP42 microsatellite flew 550km above the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef.

    Space selfies are hardly new. Buzz Aldrin snapped an image of himself during 1966's Gemini 12 mission, and being able to get a picture of spacecraft can be invaluable when diagnosing issues.

    The MP42 microsatellite was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 earlier this year and the camera (mounted on a space-grade selfie stick) sprung out to snap shots to demonstrate techniques to check for payload deployment, micrometeoroid impacts, and general fault detection.

    Continue reading
  • Liftoff at last for South Korean space program
    Satellite-deploying rocket finally launches – after a few setbacks

    South Korea's Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) yesterday succeeded in its endeavor to send the home-grown Nuri launcher into space, then place a working satellite in orbit.

    The launch was scheduled for earlier in June but was delayed by weather and then again by an anomaly in a first-stage oxidizer tank. Its October 2021 launch failed to deploy a dummy satellite, thanks to similar oxidizer tank problems that caused internal damage.

    South Korea was late to enter the space race due to a Cold War-era agreement with the US, which prohibited it developing a space program. That agreement was set aside and yesterday's launch is the culmination of more than a decade of development. The flight puts South Korea in a select group of nations that have demonstrated the capability to build and launch domestically designed and built orbital-class rockets.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022