The NASA-Nokia agreement will see the deployment of the first LTE/4G communications system in space. Nokia Bell Labs will implement by the end of 2022 an ultra-compact LTE solution with low power consumption and resistance to space conditions.
The mobile network will provide critical communication capabilities for many data transmission applications, including vital command-and-control functions, remote control of lunar vehicles, real-time navigation, and high-definition video transmission.
The LTE network, which is an intermediate technology between 4G and 5G, will allow wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to perform, including voice and video communication, the exchange of telemetry and biometric data, and the deployment and control of robotic payloads and sensors.
"Reliable, robust, and high-capacity communication networks will be key to maintaining a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface," said Marcus Weldon, Nokia's chief technology officer and president of Nokia Bell Labs.
"By building the first high-performance wireless network on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag of pioneering innovation beyond conventional boundaries," he added.
Nokia's lunar mobile network will comprise an LTE base station, LTE user equipment, radio frequency antennas, and highly reliable maintenance and operation control software.
The network has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of lunar launch and landing, operate in the extreme conditions of space, and meet the strict size, weight, and power restrictions required by NASA.
The Nokia-NASA agreement is part of the so-called Artemis program, which aims to establish sustainable operations on the Moon by the end of this decade, as a preliminary phase before launching a future expedition to Mars.