Launch ASCEND’s

Europe to Launch ASCEND’s Space-Based Data Storage Facilities

News 04 Jul 2024 35 Views

With the increase in the adoption of AI, countries worldwide are seeking innovative options to streamline digital storage operations while innovating data centers. Europe has taken the lead and is fully determined to launch eco-friendly space data centers with minimal CO2 emission.

Damien Dumestier, the project manager of Advanced Space Cloud Center European Net zero emission and Data Sovereignty, states that after concluding a 16-month-long and €2 million worth ASCEND study, we have come to a very encouraging conclusion that there is high feasibility to launch data centers into orbits which will help us build carbon-free ecosystem for humans.

“The idea [is] to take off part of the energy demand for data centers and to send them in space to benefit from infinite energy, which is solar energy,” Dumestier told CNBC.

To keep up with the growing speed of digitalization, businesses need huge data centers with loads of energy, water, and cooling resources to run the servers. With the current pace, it is expected that the electricity consumption will reach 1,000 terawatts/hour in 2026, that is roughly equal to the consumption of Japan. Merima Dzanic, head of strategy and operations at the Danish Data Center Industry Association said, the data management industry is about to hit with a “wave of data tsunami.”

“AI data centers need something like three times more energy than a traditional data center and that is a problem not just on the energy side, but also the consumption side,” she told CNBC. A “whole different approach to how we build, design and operate data centers,” is required, Dzanic added.

The Project Manager explained to the Commission that under ASCEND, 13 data center building blocks will be deployed into the space with a total capacity of 10 MW in 2036, a breakthrough to achieve commercialization of cloud services. Dumestier also stated that the data centers would be launched at an altitude of 1,400 kilometers, about three times the altitude of the International Space Station.

To significantly impact the digital ecosystem’s energy consumption, Europe aims to deploy 1,300 building blocks by 2050 in order to achieve a capacity of 1 gigawatt. ACEND’s key goal is to ensure a carbon-free environment.

The study also found that if we have to reduce CO2 emission, a new gen launcher needs to be developed that will cut the emission by up to 10 times. ArianeGroup, one out of 12 companies collaborating in this project is working on developing reusable and environment-friendly launchers. The company is determined to build one of its kind launchers by 2035. Afterward, the project will take around 15 years to deploy completely, ensuring maximum feasibility.

European Data Center Association’s Managing Director, Micheal Winterson, also acknowledged that laundering space data centers would surely benefit from using solar energy despite the weather patterns’ interruption. Yet, there lies a problem of requiring large amounts of rocket fuel to keep the centers in orbit.

“There will be specialist services that will be suited to this idea, but it will in no way be a market replacement,” said Winterson. “Applications that might be well served would be very specific, such as military/surveillance, broadcasting, telecommunications and financial trading services. All other services would not competitively run from space,” he added in emailed comments. 

Dzanic also signaled some skepticism around security risks, noting, “Space is being increasingly politicized and weaponized amongst the different countries. So obviously, there are security implications on what type of data you send out there.”

“We want to ensure data sovereignty for Europe, but this kind of project can benefit other countries,” said Dumestier. “We are pushing a lot because we can tell that it is a promising project. It could be a flagship for European space development.”

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