NASA has approached NOKIA ($NOK) for its Artemis-program to jointly realize the first wireless LTE / 4G communication system on the moon. The system will be an important link in realizing a sustainable lunar base, bringing “long term” human presence on the lunar surface a lot closer. According to NASA, communication is a crucial part, and with the breakthrough innovations from Nokia Bell Labs that question must soon be answered. The project will commence in 2022 and should establish a human presence on the moon by 2030.
Nokia’s Bell Labs has received a grant of $14.1 million to support NASA with this project. The network will assist with data transmission and communication, including control of lunar rovers, navigation on the lunar surface and video streaming. With the 4G network, the current radio standards on the moon are a thing of the past. The original 4G network will be upgraded to 5G in the future.
The network must be more resistant to the extreme climate of the moon. In addition, the system takes into account: diverse temperatures, radiation and missile landings and launches. This is essential because such circumstances can cause the lunar surface to vibrate and put a lot of pressure on the equipment during the journey. Nokia Bell Labs, in collaboration with other companies, has designed a small cell technology that is much more durable than traditional cell towers and is significantly easier to transport. A disadvantage is that the range distance of the system is more limited. The satisfaction and practical experience of the small cell technology is currently being tested on our planet as it is already deployed for 5G networks around the world.
To bolster the Artemis-program, NASA has made more investments in recent times. In its fifth and promising round of Tipping Point funding, the agency donated more than $370 million to 14 different US companies. These companies will contribute a portion of the total project costs. In this way, it saves NASA and the American taxpayer money.
The Agency has invested another $106 million for the “technology for lunar surface innovation” project, with the primary goal of better exploring the moon by humans and robots, including a fast wireless charging system, a chemical heat and electric power source that can also survive extreme temperatures. An outstanding network plays a crucial role during this project and substantiates why the innovations of Nokia Bell Labs are necessary for NASA in the next 10 years.
That the project has a serious character, is shown by another recent investment by NASA. At least $256 million is said to have been invested in cryogenic fluid management technology. These are liquefied gases essential to life on the Moon, as well as missions to Mars. This included a $53 million investment in the SpaceX company. Whether Nokia will also be part of the missions to Mars in the future is not known.
A month ago, the crowdsourcing platform HeroX announced an amount of up to $5 million in prize money for ideas on how to manage, distribute and store energy in a place where the sun won’t shine for two weeks. The motivation is that NASA must figure out how to get electricity from a power plant on the moon. Such actions ensure that the project and thus companies such as Nokia receive more attention, which is good for the activity and the share of the Finnish company.
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