With rivalry as fierce as ever among Earth’s telecoms suppliers, equipment manufacturer Nokia announced its expansion into a new market, winning an agreement to install the first cellular network on the moon.
As part of the US space agency’s strategy to create a long-term human presence on the moon by 2030, the Finnish equipment manufacturer said it was chosen by NASA to deploy an “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened” wireless 4 G network on the lunar surface.
The $14.1 million contracts awarded to the US subsidiary of Nokia is part of the Nasa Artemis initiative aimed at sending the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024.
The astronauts will begin to perform systematic experiments and explorations that the agency hopes will help it establish its first human Mars mission.
Nokia’s network equipment will be remotely mounted on the surface of the moon using a lunar hopper designed in late 2022 by Intuitive Machines, Nokia said.
“The network will self-configure upon deployment,” the firm said in a statement, adding that the wireless technology will allow for “vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video.”
In the future, Nokia said, the 4 G equipment could be upgraded to a super-fast 5 G network.
In all, last week, Nasa revealed that it would allocate $370 million to 14 businesses to supply ‘Tipping Point’ technologies for its mission, including robots and new methods for extracting the resources needed to survive on the moon, such as oxygen and energy sources.
Companies studying cryogenic propellants, freezing liquids used to fuel spacecraft, obtained much of the funding.
Among them, for a demonstration of the transfer of ten metric tons of liquid oxygen between tanks on a starship vehicle, Elon Musk’s SpaceX earned $53.2 m, Nasa said.