Eco rockets will lift data centers to an altitude of 1400 km

Data centers consume a lot of energy and water, prompting the industry to look for safe locations and use more environmentally friendly forms of energy. One of the most promising ideas is to locate data centers in space. A European study has shown that this is technically feasible and economically viable.

ASCEND. Illustration: Thales Alenia Space / Master Image Programs

The demand for data centers is growing due to the rapid development of artificial intelligence, which increases energy consumption. Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (France) and Leonardo (Italy), conducted the ASCEND (Advanced Space Cloud for European Net zero emission and Data sovereignty) study, which showed that data centers in space will operate more efficiently.

“We propose to move part of the energy needs of data centers to space using solar energy,” said Damien Dumestier, project manager.

The study compared the environmental impact of space and ground-based centers, and also found out whether the center could operate in orbit. The project requires the development of a launch vehicle that would reduce emissions of harmful substances. ArianeGroup is working on it. The first eco-rocket should be ready by 2035.

The modular space infrastructure will be assembled in orbit using robotic technologies provided by the European Commission as part of the EROSS IOD (European Robotic Orbital Support Services in Orbit Demonstrator). The first flight of this project is scheduled for 2026. The space data centers will be located at an altitude of about 1400 km, which is three times the height of the International Space Station.

ASCEND aims to deploy 13 space data center modules with a capacity of 10 megawatts by 2036, and by 2050, it is planned to deploy 1300 modules to reach a capacity of 1 gigawatt. The study found that space data centers could generate several billion euros in revenue by 2050.

The idea of space data centers has also attracted the attention of other companies. Microsoft is working with Loft Orbital and other companies on a similar project to lay the groundwork for future data management solutions in space.

Earlier, we reported on how the first data center will be located on the Moon.

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