Space Commerce

Ball Aerospace Prototype Payload to Provide On-Orbit Data Processing

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
Ball Aerospace
March 14, 2023
Filed under ,
Ball Aerospace Prototype Payload to Provide On-Orbit Data Processing
Ball Aerospace

Ball Aerospace successfully powered and launched a prototype payload on January 3, 2023, on Loft Orbital’s (Loft) YAM-5 mission aboard a SpaceX rocket.

The payload is functioning as planned and is equipped with Ball Aerospace-built Linux-based software, which features containerized applications that can be changed on-orbit, as well as real-time data processing functions.

“This rideshare payload is an informative rapid development opportunity allowing us to pioneer best practices and processes that will enable the reduction of non-recurring engineering on future missions,” said Mike Gazarik, Vice President of Engineering, Ball Aerospace. “Loft’s simple turnkey solution has enabled Ball Aerospace to respond to our customers’ desire for faster technology refresh and more affordable solutions.”

The edge processing demonstration payload was built in just eight months, showcasing small, flexible, affordable and resilient low-Earth orbit (LEO) solutions. The software payload is comprised of containerized software, including a prototype version of Microsoft’s Azure Orbital Space SDK platform, to increase reuse and decrease costs and scheduling times. Algorithms hosted on-board are able to remove clouds from the imagery that are obstructing data or prioritize downlink of data based on image content. The payload was integrated onto Loft’s modular payload interface and is currently using Loft’s mission-agnostic satellite operations platform, Cockpit.

“The rideshare project with Ball Aerospace using the Azure Orbital Space SDK shows customers how to optimize their space data in-orbit and create faster pathways to insights providing a strong foundation for future pursuits,” said Steve Kitay, senior director, Microsoft Azure Space. “This first phase of our on-orbit compute partnership is a step forward in bringing our mutual customers a standardized platform for application development in space.”

Ball Aerospace has a deep heritage of designing and building high-performance space vehicles, instruments and mission applications for defense and civil customers. With this demonstration payload, the modular technology combines proven expertise with advanced tools and processes, allowing for accelerated development timelines and future mission operations.

Powered by endlessly curious people with an unwavering mission focus, Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most. We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. Go Beyond with Ball. ® For more information, visit or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

About Ball Corporation

Ball Corporation (NYSE: BALL) supplies innovative, sustainable aluminum packaging solutions for beverage, personal care and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 21,000 people worldwide and reported 2022 net sales of $15.35 billion. For more information, visit, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.