NASA has granted Nokia of the US $14.1 million to send a 4G cellular network on the moon. The grant is part of “Tipping Point” selections, which is $370 million worth of agreements marked under NASA. The motive of the selection is to advance research and development for further space exploration.
“The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds and provide more reliability than current standards,” NASA said in its contract award announcement.
As per United Press International, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was present there. During a live transmission he said that the space agency must rapidly develop new technologies for working and living on the moon if it wants to realize its objective to have astronauts working at a lunar base by 2028.
“We need power systems that can last a long time on the surface of the moon, and we need habitation capability on the surface,” Bridenstine said.
Nokia‘s exploration arm, Bell Labs, provided some more details on Twitter. Nokia intends for the cellular network to support all the wireless operations on the lunar navigations and rovers. Company also intends the network to support streaming videos. “Working with our partners at @Int_Machines, this ground-breaking network will be the critical communications fabric for data transmission applications, including the control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation over lunar geography and streaming of high definition video,” Bell Labs tweeted.
This is not Nokia’s first attempt to dispatch a cellular network on the moon. Nokia planned to do this back in 2018 in collaboration with PT scientists, a German space organization. Vodafone UK also planned to launch an LTE network near the site of Apollo 17’s landing. But Vodafone’s mission never got off the ground.