- Nokia plans to launch 4G Internet on the moon later this year, a company executive said.
- It will be used within NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a human presence on the moon.
- The goal is to demonstrate that terrestrial networks can meet the communication needs of future space missions.
Nokia hopes to roll out a data network on the moon in 2023, an executive told reporters.
Thomas Coex | AFP via Getty Images
Nokia is preparing to launch a 4G mobile network on the moon later this year in hopes of improving lunar discoveries and eventually paving the way for human presence on the satellite planet.
The Finnish telecommunications group plans to launch the network on a SpaceX rocket in the coming months, Nokia chief engineer Luis Maestro Ruiz De Temino told reporters earlier this month at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
The network will be powered by a base station equipped with an antenna stored in a Nova-C lunar lander designed by US space company Intuitive Machines, as well as an accompanying solar-powered rover.
An LTE connection will be established between the lander and the rover.
The infrastructure will land on Shackleton crater, which is located along the southern limb of the moon.
Nokia says the technology is designed to withstand the extreme conditions of space.
The network will be used as part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send the first human astronauts to walk on the lunar surface since 1972. No decisions have been made on how NASA will use the network, a Nokia spokesman said.
The goal is to demonstrate that ground-based networks can meet the communication needs for future space missions, Nokia said, adding that its network will allow astronauts to communicate with each other and with mission control, as well as control the rover from remote and stream in real time. video time and telemetry data on Earth.
The lander will be launched via a SpaceX rocket, according to Maestro Ruiz De Temino. He explained that the rocket won’t take the lander all the way to the lunar surface, it has a propulsion system in place to complete the journey.
Anshel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said 2023 was an “optimistic target” for the launch of Nokia equipment.
“If the hardware is as ready and validated as it looks, there’s a good chance they could launch in 2023, provided their preferred launch partner doesn’t experience any setbacks or delays,” Sag told CNBC via e- mail.
Nokia previously said its lunar network “will provide critical communications capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and high-definition video streaming.” .
One of the things Nokia hopes to achieve with its lunar network is to find ice on the moon. Much of the lunar surface is now dry, but recent unmanned missions to the moon have led to the discovery of ice remnants trapped in sheltered craters around the poles.
Such water could be treated and used for drinking, broken down into hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel, or separated to provide breathable oxygen for astronauts.
“I could see it being used by future expeditions to continue exploring the moon as this really looks like a major test of capabilities before we start using it commercially for further exploration and potential future mining operations,” Sag told CNBC.
“Mining requires having a lot of infrastructure in place and having the correct data on where certain resources are located.
We will need more than just internet connectivity if we ever live on the moon. Engineering giant Rolls-Royce, for example, is working on a nuclear reactor to provide power for future lunar inhabitants and explorers.
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