Another small step for mankind. One giant leap for 4G phone networks.
Almost 50 years after the first astronauts walked on its surface, the moon is set to get its first mobile phone network in 2019. Vodafone Germany plans to set up the first 4G network on the Moon with Nokia as its technology partner.
Together the two companies will support a mission by Berlin-based space company Part Time Scientists, also known as PTScientists, to achieve the first privately-funded Moon landing in 2019. This Mission to the Moon will be launched next year from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The spacecraft to be used in the mission is called the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA). It will transport two Audi lunar quattro rovers to the lunar service. These rovers, remotely controlled by PTScientists researchers from the Mission Control Center in Berlin, will set up the 4G network.
The development of the network will take place at Nokia’s Bells Lab. A statement released on the occasion says that it will be the lightest ever space-grade ultra-compact network that will weigh less than a kilogram.
“Using the 4G network, the Audi lunar quattro rovers will transfer scientific data and HD video, while they approach and study NASA’s Apollo 17 lunar roving vehicle that was used by the last astronauts to walk on the Moon (Commander Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt) to explore the Taurus-Littrow valley in December 1972,” says the statement.
It says that Vodafone testing has indicated that the base station should be able to broadcast 4G using the 1,800 MHz frequency band. The 4G network will then be used to enable live-streaming of HD video from the Moon’s surface to a global audience using a deep space link interconnected with the PTScientists server.
Robert Böhme, the chief executive officer and founder of PTScientists, has been quoted in the statement as saying that the mission will prove an important step for viable exploration of the solar system. “In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth, we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet. With Mission to the Moon we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon. The great thing about this LTE solution is that it saves so much power, and the less energy we use sending data, the more we have to do science.”
“This important mission is supporting, among other things, the development of new space-grade technologies for future data networking, processing and storage, and will help advance the communications infrastructure required for academics, industry, and educational institutions in conducting lunar research,” says Marcus Weldon, Nokia chief technology officer, in the statement.