Ibadan, 27 July 2023. – Nokia Bell Labs is deploying the first cellular network on the Moon to demonstrate that cellular technologies can provide the critical communications needs for future lunar or Martian missions. This is because NASA selected it to participate in its Tipping Point initiative, which seeks industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions.
To that end, Nokia has partnered with Intuitive Machines and Lunar Outpost for the uncrewed lunar mission called IM-2, which will land at the Moon’s south pole. IM-2 will tentatively launch within a three-month window beginning in November of 2023, but that window may shift depending on the launch schedule. For this mission, Nokia Bell Labs has developed a low-power, compact, and space-hardened version of its 4G/LTE microcell. Furthermore, Nokia specifically designed the network to survive the journey to the Moon and operate under the lunar surface’s extreme temperature, radiation, and environmental conditions.
Thierry Klein, President of Bell Labs Solutions Research at Nokia, said: “Like shelter, food, and life support, communications will be a crucial component of any future lunar or Mars mission. Instead of ‘reinventing the wheel’ by creating a proprietary network in space, we are taking advantage of the same state-of-the-art technologies that connect billions of smartphones on Earth.”
Klein also added, “We are sending more humans and more machines into space to explore, study, and even pursue new business ventures. Wherever these humans and machines go in the solar system, they will need communications. Nokia is prepared to make that journey with them.”