When NASA returns to the Moon sometime in 2024, it wants to have an efficient and reliable way for its astronauts to communicate with one another, and it’s turning to mobile pioneer Nokia for help. This week, the space agency said it will provide Nokia with 14.1 million in funding to build out a 4G LTE cellular network on the lunar surface.
NASA Associate Administrator James Reuter told United Press International cellular service on the Moon could enable communication between lunar habitats and the astronauts out exploring its surface. It could also provide a way for the agency to communicate with spacecraft. “With NASA funding, Nokia will look at how terrestrial technology could be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable, high-rate communications,” he said.
This isn’t Nokia’s first attempt to bring LTE to the Moon. Back in 2018, the company partnered with German space firm PTScientists and UK carrier Vodafone on a mission to return to the site of the Apollo 17 landing. As part of the project, Nokia and Vodafone had planned to build a Moon-based LTE network that would have sent high-definition video from the Moon to those of us back here on Earth, but the mission never got off the ground.