Nokia is teaming up with NASA to ensure that a new wave of lunar astronauts can post their experiences to their Instagram account if they so wish. The Finnish telecommunications company will receive $ 14.1 million from the US space agency to build a 4G cell phone network on the moon. The announcement comes under contracts signed yesterday for $ 370 million, as NASA seeks to return to the moon in 2024 – with the first crew of Artemis missions is expected to include at least one woman.
The contract was signed by Nokia’s subsidiary in the United States, but it will be based on the experience of the entire company. “The system could support monthly surface communication over longer distances, increased speeds and provide greater reliability than modern standards“, ̵1; said NASA during the award of the contract.
The 4G network will be used by astronauts, vehicles and as a support for any future permanent lunar base: “With NASA funding, Nokia will consider how terrestrial technology can be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable high-speed communications.“- adds Jim Reuters, Assistant Administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission.
During the original Apollo missions of 1969-1972, engineers relied entirely on radio communications through a network of transmitters, base stations, and relays returned to earth using NASA’s 2-4 GHz “S-band.” The digital cellular service will be a significant improvement in terms of the quality and efficiency of terrestrial communications as soon as we return to the moon to stay. This raises the question of why 5G is not considered. We believe this is because 5G signals can only reach shorter distances, ie more base stations will be needed. In those early days, 4G would do a great job, much less infrastructure. Maybe the Moon will get a 5G (or even 6G) update as soon as we settle on the surface. Just don’t expect Huawei to win this tender.
Selected image: Lunar photo of Mike Petrucci on Unsplash