Nokia Wins Space Race To Help NASA Install 4G On Moon
NASA has employed Nokia to build a 4G-LTE network on the moon in a bid to reach its goal of populating the lunar surface by 2030.
Nokia’s Bell Labs, based in New Jersey in the US, was awarded AU$20 million for the project and will partner with spaceflight engineering company Intuitive Machines to help build the cellular network.
NASA believes a sustainable 4G network on the moon could provide reliable, long-distance communication between space and the earth which is more advanced than current radio standards.
It also plans to upgrade 4G to 5G if the project is successful.
The lucrative contract is part of NASA’s wider ‘Artemis’ programme which aims to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024.
Nokia’s network equipment, described as an “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution”, will be installed on the moon’s surface using a lunar hopper by late 2022, the Finnish-owned company said.
The network will provide communication and control capabilities, such as remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of hi-def video.
Nokia says its communications applications will establish a base for future long-term human presence on the lunar surface.
Nokia’s “lunar network” consists of an LTE Base Station with integrated Evolved Packet Core (EPC) functionalities, LTE User Equipment, RF antennas and high-reliability operations and maintenance (O&M) control software.
“The solution has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space,” the company said in a statement.
NASA announced it will distribute $370m to 14 companies to deploy “tipping point” technologies for its mission, including robotics and methods of harvesting oxygen and energy resources.