Remember those Nokia phones that were all the rage in the late ‘90s? The phones may be relics of the Clinton era, but Nokia is accelerating into the future at warp speed with a mobile network that should be providing 4G LTE service to the moon by next year.
There have been no moon landings in half a century, but that could soon change. There is also going to be a major improvement over the retro analog radio that astronauts used to communicate 50 years ago. Vodafone Germany and Audi are joining forces with Berlin-based PTScientists and SpaceX (you do need a rocket for this) to fund Mission to the Moon, and are taking on something infinitely cooler than cars and smartphones—the first private moon venture that could put boot prints on our satellite again.
“This is a crucial first step for sustainable exploration of the solar system. In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth,” said Robert Böhme, CEO and founder of PTScientists, in a press release recently posted on WebWire, “we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet. With Mission to the Moon we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon.”
But wait. Does the moon have any cellular hotspots? Astronauts won’t find that their phones have zero bars out there, because Vodafone recently chose Nokia as their technology partner in this mission. The moon’s space-grade Ultra Compact Network will also be the lightest ever, which means less payload weight for that Falcon 9. Think just under 2 pounds. That really is deceptively small for something that should be able to use the 1800 MHz frequency band to broadcast 4G and beam the first HD video feed of the lunar surface back to Earth.
“This important mission is supporting, among other things, the development of new space-grade technologies for future data networking, processing and storage, and will help advance the communications infrastructure required for academics, industry and educational institutions in conducting lunar research,” said Nokia Chief Technology Officer and Bell Labs President Marcus Weldon.
The network will be located at a base station in the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA) to which duo of Audi Lunar Quattro rovers (the same ones you saw in Alien: Covenant) will be linked. Those connected rovers will be able to communicate with each other and transmit scientific data and HD video. Meaning, if a scientist unearths a really awesome find while exploring a moon crater, texting colleagues should be no problem.
By the way, that HD video feed isn’t just for researchers. A deep-space link interconnected with the PTScientists server in the Mission Control Center will enable it to be broadcast everywhere back on the home planet. You may end up ditching Netflix for this.
“The great thing about this LTE solution is that it saves so much power,” Böhme pointed out, “and the less energy we use sending data, the more we have to do science!”