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NASA taps Nokia to build first 4G network on the moon

By Christian Imperio Published Oct 21, 2020 12:11 am

Nokia has been chosen by NASA to build the first ever cellular network on the moon.

The Finnish telecommunications company said that its Nokia Bell Labs division is set to build and deploy the first “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution” on the lunar surface in late 2022, as part of the space agency’s plan to establish long-term human presence on the moon.

Nokia said that its LTE network will provide wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out during their mission on the moon, such as voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads. The mobile phone manufacturer said that the network has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and can operate despite the extreme conditions of space.

The company explained that the network, which will be integrated into the lunar lander, will provide critical communication capabilities for various data transmission applications including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video.

"Leveraging our rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, we are now building the first ever cellular communications network on the Moon,” Nokia’s chief technology officer Marcus Weldon said.

He continues, “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 is among the companies selected by the space agency to develop an array of technologies under its Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and man on the moon by 2024.

(Image from NASA)