In a world where you don’t even have to be offline on the plane these days, you wonder if we’ll have to book a trip to the moon soon so that we don’t have to be surrounded by WiFi for a while. Well, then you have to be quick: Nokia hopes to get 4G on the moon this year. It was actually planned to do this at the end of last year, so a planning of ‘sometime in 2023’ is not that bad.
Nokia and NASA
Nokia started the project years ago in combination with money from NASA. It is an honor for Nokia to be able to do this: where the company in phones has not been that big for years, it is doing well in terms of connectivity. Hopefully, the moon will still be able to enjoy 4G this year. Not too long: the material is probably not resistant to the shadow moments of the moon, when it is soon -100 degrees Celsius. It is therefore expected that the moon will have LTE/4G for two weeks: then the ‘night’ will set in and the fun will probably be over.
That network has to be brought there with a Falcon 9 from SpaceX, which means that the small 10-kilogram rover (made by Intuitive Machines) has to be made very sturdy to withstand all the vibrations of the launch and the journey. The device is about the size of a doll’s house and it’s a strange idea that such a small craft will bring so much innovation to the moon. Although, isn’t 4G a bit old-fashioned? Probably 5G was not chosen because the network was not very stable when this project was started many years ago.
4G on the moon
The idea is that there’s some kind of base station and that rover. That rover drives away from the base and a connection is then set up between the two. This way you have 4G on the moon over hundreds of meters. In fact, the connection could reach two to three kilometers. The signal from a cellular network doesn’t need an atmosphere to travel far and precisely because there isn’t a complete concrete jungle on the moon like there is on Earth, the connection can probably thrive there on the craters. Although that remains to be seen of course: after all, a connection like this has never been made on the moon.
Not much is happening this year with regard to NASA’s lunar mission, but this is one of the highlights. These 4G plans also fall under Artemis and it is intended that 4G will help astronauts communicate via video calling. But also that data can be exchanged between different devices. NASA is paying Nokia 14 million euros to realize this project within the Tipping Points program. However, it is a private project, which means that Nokia itself also puts in the necessary euros. In any case, the robber can be there: he looks very cute with his two rabbit ears (which should actually be the network receivers for the connection. Hopefully he will make it to the moon safe and sound. Who knows who we will all connect with, there on the moon, powered by 4G?