Nokia wins contract to build a 4G cellphone network on the Moon

Nokia is teaming up with NASA to ensure that the new wave of lunar astronauts will be able to post their experience to their Instagram account if they so desire.

The telecoms company will receive US$ 14.1 million funding from the US space agency to build a 4G cellphone network on the moon.

The announcement comes as part of a US$ 370 million slew of contracts announced as NASA pushes toward a return to the Moon in 2024 with the first crew of the Artemis missions expected to include at least one woman.

The contract has been awarded to Nokia’s US subsidiary but will draw on the experience of the whole company. “The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards,” said NASA in awarding the contract.

The 4G network would be used by astronauts, vehicles and as a foothold for any future permanent Moonbase: “With NASA funding, Nokia will look at how terrestrial technology could be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable, high-rate communications,” adds Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

During the original 1969-1972 Apollo missions, engineers were fully reliant on radio communication through a network of transmitters, base stations, and relays, back on earth, using NASA’s ‘S-Band’ of 2-4Ghz. A digital, cellular service will be a vast improvement in terms of quality and efficiency of surface-to-surface communications, once we return to the Moon to stay.

Astronomers have chosen 4G over 5G iss because 5G signals can only reach shorter distances, meaning that more base stations would be required. Once humans are well settled on the moon that’s when the network could be upgraded to 5G or 6G.