NASA’S CONTRACT FOR LUNAR 4G… AND A QUESTION

NASA’S CONTRACT FOR LUNAR 4G… AND A QUESTION

October 23, 2020 By Joseph P. Farrell

So many people sent me this one that I had to blog about it, and interestingly enough, most of those who sent it were asking the same question I'm asking. The long and short of it is that NASA has just recently awarded a contract to Nokia to build a 4G network on the Moon:

NASA grants $14M contract to build lunar 4G network

NASA is launching a 4G phone network on the moon Nokia's lunar LTE network will allow astronauts to make calls, stream data and remote control robots

Nokia wins NASA contract to put a 4G network on the moon. Yes, really.

Let's concentrate on the last two articles, for they give a strong reason as to why NASA wants a 4G network on the Moon. From the second article, there's this:

Finnish phone company Nokia has announced it's working with the US space administration to build a 4G LTE network for moonwalkers by late 2022. As well as voice communication and data transmission, the mobile network could power navigation, stream biometric data so controllers can keep an eye on each astronaut's health and fitness, and direct remote-control robots and sensors on the lunar surface.

And from the last article, there's this:

Nokia's research arm, Bell Labs, provided more details in a Twitter thread. The company intends for the network to support wireless operation of lunar rovers and navigation, as well as streaming video.

In other words, the network is necessary for data streaming, and more importantly, controlling robots.

I strongly suspect it's that "robot" angle that's the most important, especially since NASA's plans are to establish a permanent base on the Moon, and to construct that base one will have to have robots; robots to dig, robots to construct and fit things together, and presumably, robots to maintain aspects of the base, and that will require a communications network. NASA's plans here are not unusual, for the Russian space agency ROSCOSMOS has also suggested that robots would be needed to build and maintain such a base, again, implying a strong communications capability.

One might even envision that NASA's thinking is here much in line with ROSCOSMOS in another respect, in that ROSCOSMOS proposed the idea of building such a base with robots prior to human occupation. In other words, a communications network would have to be established to the Earth, allowing for control of the robots doing the building, and it would have to handle multiple streams of data.

In other words, the network would have to be a first priority and not a later one.

But it raises a few questions too, not the least of which is...  why 4G, and not 5G? After all, we're told that 5G can handle so much more data, is a lot faster, and so on.

Well, I have a few high octane speculations about that, but they all come down to "airlessness", "microwaves", and "radiation hazards", which raises certain nasty questions about the latter's implementation "down here."

See you on the flip side...