Nokia is preparing to launch a 4G mobile network on the moon later this year, hoping to increase the number of lunar discoveries — and eventually pave the way for a human presence on the moon.
The Finnish telecommunications group plans to launch the network on a SpaceX rocket in the coming months, Luis Maestro Ruiz De Temino, Nokia’s chief engineer, told reporters earlier this month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The network will be powered by an antenna-equipped base station stored in the Nova-C lunar lander, developed by US space company Intuitive Machines, and by a companion solar-powered rover.
An LTE connection will be established between the lander and the rover.
The infrastructure will land on Shackleton Crater, which lies along the southern edge of the Moon.
Nokia says the technology is designed to withstand the extremes of space.
The network will be used as part of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, which aims to send the first human astronauts to the surface of the moon since 1972.
The goal is to show that ground-based networks can meet the communication needs of future space missions, Nokia said, adding that its network will allow astronauts to communicate with each other and with mission control, as well as remotely control the rover and broadcast real-time data. return video and telemetry data to Earth.
According to Maestro Ruiz De Temino, the landing module will be launched using a SpaceX rocket. He explained that the rocket will not deliver the lander to the surface of the moon — it has the propulsion system to complete the journey.
Anschel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said 2023 was an “optimistic target” for the launch of Nokia hardware.
“If the hardware is ready and tested, as it appears to be, there’s a good chance they can launch in 2023, as long as the chosen launch partner doesn’t have any setbacks or delays,” Sag told CNBC via email.
Nokia previously said its lunar network “will provide critical communications capabilities for many different data applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and high-definition video streaming.”
We’re going to need more than just an internet connection if we ever want to live on the moon. Engineering giant Rolls-Royce, for example, is working on a nuclear reactor to power future lunar inhabitants and explorers.
One of the things Nokia hopes to achieve with its lunar network is the search for ice on the moon. Much of the Moon’s surface is now dry, but recent unmanned lunar missions have revealed remnants of ice trapped in protected craters around the poles.
Such water could be treated and used for drinking, split into hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel, or separated to provide astronauts with breathable oxygen.
“I can see this being used by future expeditions to continue exploring the moon, because it really looks like a solid test of capabilities before commercial use for additional exploration and potential future mining,” Saag told CNBC.
“Mining requires a lot of infrastructure and the right data about where certain resources are located.