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The arrival of the first 4G network on the Moon is being prepared

Little by little the ground is being prepared for the arrival of the first LTE wireless network (4G) to the moon. The objective is to optimize communications with the lunar surface for critical missions.


This is a project that Nokia is working on together with NASA. The company was selected by the special agency to carry out this mission, as announced in 2020. Two years later, more details of this initiative arrive.

Intuitive Machines also comes into play in this project, the company that builds the unmanned rovers for the mission that will use Nokia’s LTE network. In fact, the company recently submitted a test request to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for communications in the 1700-1800MHz spectrum bands.


The 4G system will reach the satellite aboard a Space X rocket. The launch will take place in 2023. “Our hardened LTE equipment for space will be integrated into an Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander and a Lunar Outpost MAPP rover, which, in turn, will travel aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into space”, anticipated the scientist from Nokia, Holly Rubin, in a recently published blog.

Throughout the project, from the announcement until the launch, the company will focus on testing, since the system, which includes a base station and other components, must travel several kilometers in space.


Basically, we have carried out three types of tests: acceleration, shock and vibration. While all hardware elements have undergone multiple rounds of testing, our base station has definitely been through even more. For example, we have shaken the base station on shake tables. We’ve lifted the base station up into the air and then dropped it to make sure nothing breaks. We even place the base station in giant centrifuges that simulate the intense acceleration forces experienced during launch.”

The most difficult is the stage in which the rocket separates and until it crosses the earth’s atmosphere. Once this challenge is overcome, while there will be vibration and acceleration, it will not be as pronounced as in those first ten minutes of flight that occur at launch.

Any LTE network, in addition to a base station, has liquid that, if they were exposed to a vacuum, they would boil, with which those liquids will be replaced by solid components. The use of materials that release gases when exposed to a vacuum will also be avoided to prevent them from depositing on the equipment and damaging it.


The specialist concludes by saying that tests will continue to be carried out taking into account the difficulties mentioned since any loss of components could result in damage or even the inability to establish the network on the Moon. What is clear is that since that announcement two years ago and today progress has been made and the plan is to launch the space mission in 2023.

What is the purpose of taking 4G to the Moon

The idea is to provide a communication system with the Earth to obtain, in the shortest possible time, information collected on the lunar surface. This could be useful especially in critical missions. This was explained by Hillary Smith, a member of NASA, in a post made a few months ago:

“A small rover developed by Lunar Outpost will move more than a mile away from the Nova-C lander and test Nokia’s wireless network at various distances. The rover will communicate with a base station located on Nova-C, and the lander will communicate the data back to Earth. This demonstration could pave the way for a commercial 4G/LTE system for mission-critical communications on the lunar surface.. This includes communications and even high-definition video streaming from astronauts to base stations, vehicles to base stations, and more.”


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