While preparing to return to the Moon, NASA is looking for new technologies for communication in space. In 2020, the space agency signed a $ 14 million contract with Nokia’s Bell Labs for the development of a 4G LTE network on the Moon.
Now, new information about the project has been revealed in an interview by Thierry Klein with Fierce Wireless. In particular, the director of Bell Labs commented that the space program will be the main focus of the lab’s work for 2021.
According to Klein, NASA wants to use a simplified, low-cost network on the lunar terrain. Although 5G is the next step in the mobile industry, 4G has better performance in the space for communication and robotic control.
Unlike traditional towers on Earth, the expert says that the 4G lunar network will be formed by highly reinforced equipment. For example, they will be more resistant to radiation, temperature fluctuations and vibrations.
Despite the lack of atmosphere on the Moon helping to propagate the signal, the researchers see problems with the range. On Earth, the towers are over 30 meters high, while the landing module will be about 4 meters.
To this end, Nokia is testing a short-range communication system that covers an area of 400 meters. At the same time, the company works with an LTE package with range power that projects the signal up to 5 kilometers away.
Communication from the rovers
To facilitate communication on the lunar surface, Nokia is working to integrate LTE equipment into the rovers under development by Intuitive Machines. The devices will be compact with integrated radio, baseband and processing hardware.
In addition, Klein points out that the devices will be similar in size to the cell phones currently used. Thus, they will operate at the same frequency as the landing module.