Finnish telecom company Nokia has been selected by NASA as a partner to advance 'Tipping Point' technologies and to build the first-ever cellular network on the Moon. Yes, you read that right, if you are struggling to get a network on earth then you might get a chance on the lunar surface. Telecom giant Nokia will soon be establishing a 4G network on the Moon. The company also plans to first install a 4G/LTE network and later convert it to 5G.
US space agency NASA has recently given the contract to Nokia to build the first cellular network on the Moon as NASA plans for a future where humans establish lunar settlements and return there. Under the Artemis program by NASA, the space agency aims to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024 and also plans to start a long term presence there.
According to Nokia, communications will be a crucial component for NASA's Artemis program, which will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon by the end of the decade. "LTE/4G technology promises to revolutionise lunar surface communications by delivering reliable, high data rates while containing power, size, and cost," the company added.
4G on Moon by 2022
Nokia Bell Labs' innovations will be used to deploy an end-to-end LTE solution on the lunar surface in late 2022. The company aims to build the first ultra-compact, low-power, space hardened LTE solution which will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation, and streaming of high definition video.
Astronauts will be able to give voice and video communications capabilities and allow telemetry and biometric data exchange, as well as the deployment and remote control of robotic devices. The network will be designed to withstand the extreme conditions of the launch and lunar landing and to operate in space.
It will have to be sent to the moon in an extremely compact form to meet the stringent size, weight, and power constraints of space payloads.
"Leveraging our rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, we are now building the first-ever cellular communications network on the Moon. Reliable, resilient, and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. By building the first high-performance wireless network solution on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag for pioneering innovation beyond the conventional limits," Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President said.
NASA awarded Nokia's Bell Labs $14.1 million for the mission
NASA has selected a total of 14 US companies, including Nokia, for its moon mission. A collective fund of USD 370 million has been allocated for this. NASA aims to develop a range of technologies to pave the way for a permanent Artemis program on the moon by the end of this decade. The selected companies include SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Nokia, Sierra Nevada, SSL Robotics, and United Launch Alliance (ULA).
According to United Press International, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a live broadcast that if NASA wants to meet its goal of seeing astronauts working on the moon by 2028, it will have to develop new technology rapidly. He also said that power systems are needed that can stay on the lunar surface for a long time, adding that and the ability to migrate to the Moon must also be developed.
Earlier in 2018, Nokia had attempted to launch an LTE network on Moon along with the partnership of German space firm PTScientists and Vodafone UK. The plan was to set up a network on the Apollo 17 landing. However, this mission was never completed.
NASA's Artemis Program
NASA aims to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. The US space agency has collaborated with several international and commercial partners to establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. NASA will build sustainable elements on and around the Moon that allow our robots and astronauts to explore more and conduct more science than ever before.
Also, Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. She personifies the path to the Moon as the name of NASA's program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first woman and the next man. When they land, American astronauts will step foot where no human has ever been before: the Moon’s South Pole.