NASA chooses Nokia for first cellular network on the moon

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

The Finnish technology firm has been chosen by the US space agency as a key technology partner for technologies which will advance plans to establish a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.

As part of the project, Nokia will deploy the first long term evolution (LTE) 4G communications system in space, with innovations from Bell Labs used to build and
deploy the first ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened solution on the lunar surface in late 2022.

Nokia is partnering with Intuitive Machines for this mission to integrate the network into their lunar lander and deliver it to the moon's surface. The network will self-configure upon deployment and establish the first LTE communications system on the moon.

Nokia’s LTE network - the precursor to 5G - will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video.

It also provided wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out, enabling voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads.

Nokia’s lunar network consists of an LTE Base Station with integrated evolved packet core (EPC) functionalities, LTE user equipment, radio frequency antennas, as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) control software.

The solution has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space. The fully integrated cellular network meets very stringent size, weight and power constraints of space payloads in an extremely compact form factor.

Marcus Weldon, chief technology officer at Nokia and president of Nokia Bell Labs, said: "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.

“Reliable, resilient and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface," he continued. "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.”

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