LTE network for the moon?! Yes, the technology can revolutionize lunar surface communications by delivering reliable, high data rates while containing power, size and cost. So, Nokia, a global telecommunications network technology leader, has got a chance to show its technology prowess on the moon also.
The company was recently named by NASA as a partner to deploy the first LTE/4G communications system in space. Communications will be a crucial component for NASA’s Artemis program, which will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon by the end of the decade.
Pioneering innovations of Nokia Bell Labs, the research arm of Nokia will be used to build and deploy the first ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution on the lunar surface in late 2022.
Nokia’s LTE solution promises to revolutionize lunar surface communications by providing reliable, high data rates while containing power, size and cost.
Nokia is partnering with Intuitive Machines, a private space company, for this mission to integrate the ground-breaking network into their lunar lander and deliver it to the lunar surface. The network will self-configure upon deployment and establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon.
Nokia wants to have the capabilities that it has on the Earth in space to run advanced applications, whether it is videos, telemetry, sensing applications, robotics. Our goal is to deliver a fully integrated, very compact LTE network.
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. These communication applications are required to support long-term human presence on the lunar surface.
Building The Moon-Worthy 4G Solution
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 is designed to meet very stringent size, weight and power constraints of space payloads in a highly compact form factor.
The network will be automatically set up and the software will allow the company to monitor, control and configure the software if there is any change. The deployment and control the network equipment can easily be done from the Earth.
The same LTE technologies that have met the world’s mobile data and voice needs for the last decade are well suited to provide mission-critical and state-of-the-art connectivity and communications capabilities for any future space expedition.
Nokia plans to supply commercial LTE products and provide technology to expand the commercialization of LTE, and to pursue space applications of LTE’s successor technology, 5G.
Nokia has a rich history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, it is now building the first-ever cellular communications network on the Moon.
As a market leader in comprehensive telecommunication technologies for service provider and enterprise customers globally, Nokia develops and provides mission-critical networks adopted by airports, factories, industrial, first-responders, and the harshest mining operations on the Earth.
By deploying its technologies on the lunar surface, Nokia Bell Labs will be able to validate the solution’s performance and technology readiness level and further optimize it for future terrestrial and space applications.