Nokia is to deploy the first LTE/4G communications system in space after being chosen by NASA as a partner to advance ‘Tipping Point’ technologies for the Moon.
The Finnish telecoms technology provider’s Nokia Bell Labs division will build and deploy the first ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution on the Moon in late 2022, as part of NASA’s Artemis programme, which aims to establish a human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade in preparation for an expedition to Mars.
Through the Tipping Point solicitation, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. The public-private partnerships established through Tipping Point selections combine NASA resources with industry contributions, shepherding the development of critical space technologies.
Nokia is partnering with Intuitive Machines for this mission to integrate its network into their lunar lander and deliver it to the surface of the Moon. The network 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.
Nokia’s LTE network – the precursor to 5G – is said to be ideally suited for providing 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.
Marcus Weldon, chief technology officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President, said: “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. 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.”