Nokia is going to deploy the first LTE/4G communications system in space and helping pave the way towards “sustainable human presence” on the lunar surface. The company has been named by NASA as a partner to advance ‘Tipping Point’ technologies for the Moon.
The LTE network will self-configure upon deployment and establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon. This network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications. These include 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 – would be ideally suited for providing wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out. It enables voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads.
“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 (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.”
Cellular Network, Innovations
Nokia’s lunar network consists 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 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 would meet very stringent size, weight and power constraints of space payloads in an extremely compact form factor.
Through the ‘Tipping Point’ solicitation, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate seeks 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. NASA plans to leverage these innovations for its Artemis program, which are intended to establish sustainable operations on the Moon by the end of the decade in preparation for an expedition to Mars.