Nokia and NASA to build moon's first cellular network

The network is expected to 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.

NASA has awarded Nokia Bell Labs $14.1 million to bring a 4G/LTE cellular network to the moon.

NASA said that Nokia's system could "support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards".

After delivery, the network will configure itself and set up the first LTE (Long-Term Evolution) communications system on the moon, Nokia said.

Astronauts will be able to communicate via voice and video as well as exchange data through the wireless communications, Nokia says. "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". This will include an LTE base station, user equipment and RF antennas, all created to endure the physical demands of launching, landing and operating in space.

Besides, the network is to be sent to the moon in an extremely compact form to meet the desired size, weight, and power constraints of space payloads. NASA plans to leverage these innovations for its Artemis program, which will establish sustainable operations on the Moon by the end of the decade in preparation for an expedition to Mars. LTE is a proven commercial technology, has a large ecosystem of technology and component suppliers, and is deployed worldwide.

Nokia announced that they will work towards first implementing 4G on the moon, with the goal of evolving and transitioning to 5G coverage.

The Nokia contract is one small part of the overall funding which is also going to develop a "hopper"-style lunar lander, and new ways to possibly use frozen water from the moon's poles to make fuel by separating the hydrogen and oxygen".

The collaboration is part of NASA's Tipping Point program, through which the agency hopes to accelerate the development of space-based technologies through investments with private firms.

Without a doubt, the mission will be a milestone of success in the journey of expanding beyond Earth.

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