NASA, the US space agency, has awarded Nokia $ 14.1 million to deploy a 4G cellular network on the moon.
Nokia’s plan is to create a 4G / LTE network and then move to 5G. It will be “the first LTE / 4G communication system in space,” according to NASA’s announcement.
The grant is part of $ 370 million in contracts signed under NASA’s “Tipping Point” selections to advance research and development for space exploration.
“The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards,” NASA noted in its contract award announcement.
NASA has chosen 14 US companies, including several small companies, as partners and awarded them a total of $ 370 million to develop a range of technologies that will help pave the way for sustainable Artemis operations on the moon by the end. of the decade.
Selected companies include SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Nokia, Sierra Nevada, SSL Robotics, and United Launch Alliance (ULA), among others.
The majority of the funding will help advance cryogenic fluid management technologies through space demonstrations led by small companies Eta Space, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and ULA.
According to United Press International, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a live broadcast said the space agency must quickly develop new technologies for living and working on the moon if it is to achieve its goal of having astronauts work on the moon. a lunar base by 2028.
“We need electrical systems that can last a long time on the moon’s surface, and we need habitation capacity on the surface,” said Bridenstine.
Nokia’s research arm, Bell Labs, provided more details in a Twitter thread. The company intends for the network to support wireless operation of lunar rovers and navigation, as well as video streaming.
Towards the Moon!
We are delighted to have been nominated by @NASA as a key partner in advancing ‘Tipping Point’ technologies for the moon, to help pave the way for a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.
So what technology can you expect to see? (1/6) pic.twitter.com/wDNwloyHdP
– Bell Labs (@BellLabs) October 15, 2020
“Together with our partners at @Int_Machines, this revolutionary network will be the essential communication fabric for data transmission applications, including control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation of lunar geography and streaming of high definition video, ”Bell Labs said in a tweet.
This is not Nokia’s first attempt to launch an LTE network on the moon. It was planned to do so in 2018 in conjunction with PTScientists, a German space company, and Vodafone UK to launch an LTE network at the Apollo 17 landing site, but the mission never got off the ground.