Nokia was just awarded a 14.1 million dollar contract from NASA to establish a 4G network on the moon. This purpose of this is to help astronauts with lunar surface communications.
The Finish company’s plan is to build a 4G/LTE network, which at some point would be upgraded to 5G. According to NASA, it will be “the first LTE/4G communications system in space… [and] the system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards.”
Why Is 4G On The Moon Good?
NASA says they will be able to operate lunar rovers more effectively as well as their navigation. In addition, they will be able to stream video’s on the moon! How cool would it be to go on Instagram and be able to watch a live stream of what’s happening on the moon with NASA? Wake up with your morning coffee, open up your phone and watch astronauts doing bottle flip challenges in space!
With Nokia’s eventual creation, it will open up a whole new chapter of space technology. The goal is to design a 4G network that is not only operable and efficient in the depths of space, but to make it durable enough too. Nokia has to be able to make a product that can withstand the vacuum of space, endure the crushing cold temperatures, and is able to survive certain amounts of radiation. Even though Nokia has some pretty awesome plans with NASA, the fun doesn’t stop there for the future of the moon.
To the moon! 🌕— Bell Labs (@BellLabs) October 15, 2020
We are excited to have been named by @NASA as a key partner to advance “Tipping Point” technologies for the moon, to help pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.
So, what technology can you expect to see? (1/6) pic.twitter.com/wDNwloyHdP
NASA’s Tipping Point Program
Nokia wasn’t the only organization to receive a large sum of money from NASA for their interest in space. In fact, Nokia was apart of a long list of other organizations awarded contracts. This long list is known as NASA’s Tipping Point Selections. The organizations chosen by NASA are considered to be the fifth competitive Tipping Point solicitation. The companies will receive an expected combined value of $370 million. Of course, through NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), they will have to negotiate with the companies in order for them to issue milestone-based firm-fixed price contracts that will last for up to five years. (2)
Having a sustainable 4G network on the moon is awesome. However, NASA is going to need a lot of help in multiple different ways. Every single company chosen by NASA has a part to play in the ability to adventure out into space. This isn’t just a mission to make the moon more workable for astronauts. In fact, these organizations are going to be creating the future of space exploration entirely.
Who Else Is Helping Nasa?
NASA’s Tipping Point Program consists of 3 main categories including:
- Cryogenic Fluid Management Technology Demonstration
- Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative Technology Demonstration
- Closed-Loop Descent and Landing Capability Demonstration
The Cryogenic Fluid Management Technology Demonstration section of the list appears to have a substantial amount of funds dedicated to it. This is most likely because of companies like SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA). They are being asked to create techniques for handling as well as making rocket propellant in space. You can see in the list of companies that ULA was given $86.2 million out of the $370 million endeavor. (2)
The Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative Technology Demonstration section lists Nokia and other major companies. These select organizations will be asked to take part in creating technologies needed to advance in-situ resource utilization. This entails surface power generation, energy storage, communications, and more. Nokia’s 4G network is integral for humans and robots in order to explore more of the Moon.
The Closed-Loop Descent and Landing Capability Demonstration section only has one organization listed. However, NASA is expected to invest $10 million in the company, Masten, for their contribution. This section talks about how suborbital platforms can enable testing of integrated precision landing and hazard avoidance technologies. NASA will be able to benefit from analyzing flight data that is acquired through tests and missions in relevant environments. This means using lunar trajectories during descent and landing. This includes experiences during suborbital flights.
Masten will achieve this by demonstrating precision landing and hazard avoidance testing capabilities across relevant lunar trajectories. In addition, Masten has plans that will mature its Xogdor vehicle. This is to provide researchers from government, academia, and industry with a new platform for testing space technologies. (2)
4G On The Moon Is Just The Start
NASA has a pretty big endgame goal for the moon aside from just establishing an amplified 4G network. Of course, Nokia will have to prove that their 4G plan works. All of the selected organizations must be able to perform and demonstrate their contributions to NASA. As they come to fruition, the private industry will adopt the best techniques and practices. In order to achieve NASA’s ultimate dream. To have a working lunar base by the year of 2028. (3)
“We want to build the [lunar] infrastructure…that is going to enable an international partnership for the biggest, broadest, most diverse inclusive coalition of researchers and explorers in the history of humankind,” NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a live broadcast.
Nokia’s functional 4G network on the moon could also have the potential to be used in spacecrafts.
“With NASA funding, Nokia will look at how terrestrial technology could be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable, high-rate communications,” Reuter claims. (3)
Nokia couldn’t comment on where the targeted site will be. NASA claims that they will start near a site that has water-ice deposits on the moon’s south pole. Furthermore, the Artemis missions set in place are only the start of this great space adventure. NASA also states that establishing a lunar base will be a stepping stone in the long journey of space exploration.
In other words, it’s going to be a collaborative effort to make NASA’s dreams a reality. Over the years, we will be able to see most of these inventions come to life. Hopefully, by 2028, mankind will have enough technological power to go beyond our moon and into greater depths of space.
- ‘2020 NASA Tipping Point Selections’ NASA. Published October 14, 2020.
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