Nokia is to build a 4G network for US space agency NASA that can be used to connect equipment on the Moon
The rad-hard, low power end-to-end network will be built by Nokia Bell Labs as part of the Artemis programme. Nokia will work with Intuitive Machines to include a basestation in a lunar lander that is scheduled to land on the Moon in 2022. Other equipment will then be able to connect to the network for command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video.
The Artemis programme aims to send astronauts back to the Moon in 2024.
“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, Chief Technology Officer 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.”
Nokia’s lunar network will consist of 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 system is designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space.
The design will use space qualified sub-miniature push (SMP connectors) from Rosenberger in Germany, which is the only manufacturer of SMP connectors certified by ESA (European Space Agency) for space applications. Further connector series from Rosenberger – SMA, RPC-2.92 and TNC – are also qualified by the ESA standard ESCC 3402 (European Space Components Coordination).
Intuitive has a mission to the Moon launch in October 2021 called Nova-C that will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre. This will take a payload of 100kg to the south pole of the Moon and provide 250Kbit/s to 6Mbit/s of data coverage from a 200W power source from solar panels.
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