The world of data centers could be heading off-world in the near future. Technology and data centers go hand in hand with one another. The idea of autonomous data centers was once just a dream, but it is becoming a reality. There is an underwater data center that was launched by Microsoft. So, it is only natural that after we’ve had data centers on land and in the water that we look to the stars above as the next step.
With companies like SpaceX available, it is plausible that data centers could be launched into space. They would be able to operate autonomously, and due to the coldness of space, cooling should not be a problem. However, there are some potential issues with having data centers in space right away.
The Barrier to Space
One of the biggest barriers right now will be the cost. The prices are high to launch rockets, and it might not be financially feasible to put a data center in space. Given that it is still cheaper at this point to have data centers that are literally down to earth, and that are larger than what would be put into space, it seems as though it is still a ways off. However, if SpaceX is able to utilize its reusable rocket technology, it could help to lower the cost eventually. This is especially true when other companies start competing against SpaceX.
One of the other problems that will eventually crop up is when something goes wrong in the data center and needs to be repaired. While many tasks can be done remotely from the earth, there may be some issues that can’t be as easily fixed. It’s not going to be possible to get up to the station to make those repairs. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the data centers are designed to have as few issues as possible.
There are already some satellites in orbit that work similarly to data centers, albeit on a much smaller scale. There are a number of benefits to having a data center in space, as well. Because the data center could be solar powered, it would mean that there would be no need to pay for electricity. We’ve already touched on the fact that the coldness of space will help with the cooling. Since it is in space, this also means that there will not be any need for security. Of course, one of the biggest savings is the fact that the company would not have to pay for real estate. With a large data center on earth, buying the land can be a huge expense.
Even though there are added costs to having the data center in space, it is easy to see that there are some great advantages, as well. It’s not so much a matter of if it can be done – it can. Instead, it’s more a matter of when this will happen and which company will be the first to launch a data center into space.