Nokia has announced that it will send equipment for the deployment of 4G networks to the Moon during an upcoming space mission. The company hopes that this step will pave the way for new discoveries and create opportunities for a human presence on the Moon and beyond.
The system is expected to be deployed aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket during the upcoming Intuitive Machines IM-2 mission, scheduled for launch in November.
Nokia, working together with Lunar Outpost and Intuitive Machines, has created equipment for 4G that is designed to work in the harsh conditions of space. It could be useful in future manned Artemis missions to the Moon. NASA plans to land two astronauts on the surface of the Moon in 2025, which would be the first step by astronauts on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Nokia announced the project in 2020 when it was selected by NASA. At that time, their laboratory, Bell Labs, received $14.1 million to finance the project. In its blog, the company announced that it will initially test short- and long-distance communication capabilities at distances from several hundred meters to two or three kilometers.
“It became evident to us that, for any sustained human presence on the Moon and Mars in the future, connectivity, and communications are critical,” Thierry Klein, president of Bell Labs Solutions Research at Nokia Bell Labs, said in the post.
Klein added that it is imperative for astronauts to have the same access to technology as they do on Earth to run their applications and support their activities in space. Ideally, astronauts on future missions will use the 4G internet.
The company hopes to help further research and experiments to find ice on the Moon that could provide astronauts with oxygen, drinking water and rocket fuel.
In a press release late last month, Thierry Klein said that Nokia and Bell Labs looking forward to taking the technology into space next year. He said the 4G network “will have a big impact on future crewed missions to the Moon and beyond, and validate that cellular technologies can be adapted for mission-critical space communications needs.”
“Instead of reinventing the wheel by creating a proprietary network in space, we are leveraging the same technology that connects billions of devices cost-effectively on Earth.”