Nasa Awards Nokia Contract to Set Up 4G Network on the Moon

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Nasa has contracted Nokia to set up a 4G network on the moon. The project worth $14.1 million (Sh1.5 billion) will see the infrastructure company deploy 4G network on the moon.

This is part of NASA’s “tipping point” selections, worth $370 million (Sh40 billion) in efforts to advance research and development for space exploration.

“The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds and provide more reliability than current standards,” NASA noted in its contract award announcement.

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

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“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,” said Marcus Weldon, CTO at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President.

“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.”

In a Twitter thread, Nokia’s research arm, Bell Labs, said that the company intends for the network to support wireless operation of lunar rovers and navigation, as well as streaming video.

“Working with our partners at @Int_Machines, this groundbreaking network will be the critical communications fabric for data transmission applications, including the control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation over lunar geography and streaming of high definition video,” Bell Labs said in a tweet.

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Nokia’s lunar network comprises an LTE Base Station with integrated Evolved Packet Core (EPC) functionalities, LTE User Equipment, RF antennas and high-reliability operations and maintenance (O&M) control software.

The solution is designed to withstand the harsh conditions of space and is built for a strong launch and lunar landing

The end-to-end LTE network , pioneered by Nokia Bell Labs’, is expected to be ready in late 2022.

However, this will not be Nokia’s first attempt at setting up the Lunar LTE network. It was first commissioned to undertake the project with PTScientists, a German space company, and Vodafone UK to launch an LTE network at the site of the Apollo 17 landing in 2018, but the project never took off.

Written by Vanessa Murrey

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