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Nokia to build 4G cell network on the moon as NASA sets eyes on long-term human presence there


'These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface'

Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The moon will soon have better cell service than over 4 billion earthlings.

NASA has tapped Nokia to build a 4G LTE cellular network on the moon, the telecommunications company announced in a news release Monday.

Nokia, a company known not only for making cellphones but also back-end communications equipment like cell towers and satellites, will build the network that is to be deployed on a lunar lander to the moon's surface in late 2022.

The project is a part of NASA's Artemis program, which boldly aims to establish a "sustainable human presence" on the moon by 2028 and send astronauts to Mars shortly after.

In a news release last week, NASA announced plans to partner with 14 different American companies at an award total of nearly $370 million to develop moon-landing technologies for the program. Nokia of America Corporation, based in Sunnyvale, California, was listed as a partner on the release to a tune of $14.1 million.

Offering more details about its contract with the U.S. space agency on Monday, Nokia said that the forthcoming network will provide "critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video."

"These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface," the company added.

Nokia will reportedly use largely commercial off-the-shelf communications technologies to construct a "ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE" network "designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space."

"Reliable, resilient and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. By building the first high performance wireless network solution on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag for pioneering innovation beyond the conventional limits," Nokia's chief technology officer, Marcus Weldon, said in the news release.

The cellular network will also reportedly be upgraded to 5G eventually, which tech site CNET notes, is "exciting news for moonwalkers; possibly a bit annoying for anyone who can't get a signal right here on Earth."

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