• Aditya Das

Nokia and Nasa to install the first 4G network on the Moon

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Godhasri Krishnan

October 27, 2020

Nokia to be the first wireless broadband communications system in space built on the lunar surface by 2022.

Nokia strives to create a shock-resistant kit that can withstand harsh conditions during launch and landing on the Moon

(Source: News Sky)

NASA gave away $370 million to around a dozen US companies to deploy the technology on the moon, according to DNA India. This technology, along with robotics, cryogenic freezing, and other innovations, includes 4G. Other companies commissioned include Elon Musk's 'SpaceX' ($53.2 million), aerospace and defence company 'Lockheed Martin' ($89.7 million), and rocket manufacturer 'United Launch Alliance' ($86.2 million). NASA also invested $256 million in essential cryogenic fluid management tech. This investment is for liquefied gases kept at very low temperatures to establish a sustainable presence on the moon and enable crewed missions to Mars.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration believes that 4G could provide more efficient and trustworthy long-distance communication than the facilities right now on the moon. According to News Sky, NASA aims to sustain human life on the moon and set up a lunar base by 2024; this program is called Artemis. For this project, Nokia's Bell Labs was granted $14.1 million. Bell Labs was formerly operated by AT&T and will now partner with the spaceflight engineering company, Intuitive Machines, to build out the 4G-LTE network.

Astronauts will use the wireless network for multiple-use purposes. These include data transmission, control of robotic and sensor payloads, high-definition video streaming, and navigation on lunar geography (similar to Google Maps). Unlike cell towers on Earth, the moon's 4G network will be limited in range but won’t use as many cell towers. This small cell technology will be more efficient and more comfortable to pack in rockets for space travel. The kit must also be able to "withstand harsh conditions of the lunar launch and landing, and to operate and adapt to the extreme conditions of space" as per News Sky.

Nokia is partnering with US company Intuitive Machines. NASA chose to build a small “hopper lander” that can access lunar craters and carry out high-resolution surveys of the lunar surface over a short distance. According to News Sky, Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President said, "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". Nasa also expects the companies to contribute to the total project costs. This helps the development of important space technologies while also saving money.

According to News Sky, NASA strives to establish a ‘Lunar Gateway’ outpost which would orbit the moon by the mid-2020s, followed by lunar landers to deliver cargo to the surface by the late 2020s. Nokia has plans to supply commercial LTE products and provide technology to expand the commercialization of LTE and pursue space applications of 5G, LTE's successor technology.

Sources : ( News Sky, Nokia, DNA India )

Edited by : Aditya Das and Shreya Gupta

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