Finland’s multinational telecommunications company, Nokia has been reportedly selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon.
The lunar network will be part of the efforts of the US space agency to return humans to the moon by 2024 and build long-term settlements there under its Artemis programme.
Nokia said the first space-based wireless broadband communication system will be installed on the lunar surface in late 2022.
It will collaborate with Intuitive Machines, a private space craft design company based in Texas to deliver the equipment on their lunar lander to the moon.
Nokia said the network would configure itself and set up a 4G/LTE communication system on the moon, although the intention would ultimately be to move to 5G.
According to the company, the network will provide voice and video communication capabilities for astronauts and will enable the sharing of telemetry and biometric data, as well as the deployment and remote control of lunar rovers and other robotic devices.
Nokia stated, “The network will 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”.
The network will be designed to resist the extreme conditions of launch and lunar landing and to operate in space. It will have to be sent to the moon in a very compact form to meet the strict size, weight and power limitations of space payloads.
Instead of the new 5G technology, Nokia said the network will use 4G/LTE, in use worldwide for the last decade, because the former was a more well-known quantity with proven reliability. The company would also “pursue space applications of LTE’s successor technology, 5G”.