Nokia announced it will send 4G internet service to the moon during an upcoming space mission. The company says the technology will hopefully pave the way for more lunar discoveries and create opportunities for a human presence on the moon and beyond.
The system will be deployed during Intuitive Machines’ upcoming IM-2 mission, currently scheduled for launch in November aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander will deliver the system and other payloads to our natural satellite, taking Nokia’s 4G communications system to its final destination atop Shackleton Crater in the moon’s southern region, reports CNBC.
Nokia has partnered with Lunar Outpost and Intuitive Machines to develop 4G technology to withstand the harsh conditions of space. The technical demonstration could set the stage for use on future manned Artemis missions to the moon. The current plan calls for NASA to land two astronauts on the lunar surface in 2025, marking the first time astronauts have walked on the moon since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.
Anshel Sag, the senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told CNBC that 2023 is an “optimistic target” for Nokia to launch the 4G network, adding, “When the hardware is ready and validated, it seems.” , there’s a good chance they could launch in 2023 as long as their preferred launch partner doesn’t face setbacks or delays.”
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Nokia announced the project in 2020 when it was selected by NASA and its Bell labs were awarded $14.1 million to fund the project, CNN reported at the time. Nokia said in the blog post that it will first test the lander’s short- and long-range communications capabilities at ranges from a few hundred meters to a distance of two to three kilometers. The network will be critical to “any sustained human presence on the Moon and Mars in the future,” Nokia said in a blog post.
“We realized that connectivity and communication are critical for any permanent human presence on the Moon and Mars in the future,” said Thierry Klein, head of enterprise and industrial automation research lab at Nokia Bell Labs, in the post. He added that it is imperative for astronauts to have the same access to technology as they have on Earth to run their applications and support their space activities. Ideally, astronauts will use 4G Internet during the Artemis 3 mission to improve “voice and video communication skills, telemetry and biometric data exchange, sensor applications or the control of robotics”.
Nokia did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
The company hopes to help with further exploration and experimentation to find ice on the moon that could provide breathing oxygen for astronauts, potable water and rocket fuel. Though the moon’s surface is dry, unmanned missions have signaled ice remnants in some of the moon’s sheltered craters.
Klein said in a press release late last month that Nokia and Bell Labs look forward to bringing the technology to space in the coming year. He said the 4G network “will have a major impact on future human missions to the moon and beyond, confirming that cellular technologies can be adapted for mission-critical communications needs in space. Instead of reinventing the wheel by building a proprietary network in space, we’re using the same technology that inexpensively connects billions of devices on Earth.”
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