Nokia is going to build a 4G network on the Moon in collaboration with NASA. The Finnish telecom company announced this on Monday. It is the first cellular network on the Moon.
The cellular connection should be operational by the end of 2022 and is part of NASA’s Artemis program. With that, the US space agency wants to have a “sustainable human presence” on the Moon by the end of the decade.
The 4G connection will be used to allow astronauts to communicate via audio and video and to exchange data between devices and sensors. The network can also control moon carts.
The network equipment comes from Nokia, but the Finns are partnering with Intuitive Machines to integrate their technology into the lunar module and roll it out smoothly on the lunar surface.
The network will configure itself. The first human-crewed mission to the Moon is not scheduled for 2024, but moon cars and other equipment will be sent to the Moon in the coming years.
The network will consist of an LTE base station with integrated Evolved Packed Core (EPC) functionalities. LTE devices for users, RF antennas and management software for operations and maintenance.
Nokia also says that the equipment is specifically designed to survive the extreme conditions on the Moon, such as the launch and landing.
According to Nokia, 4G was chosen because this network technology has already proven itself to be reliable. Moreover, there is plenty of equipment available that can handle 4G. However, it is being investigated whether 5G can also be used in space in the long term.