back to article NASA hires Nokia to build first 4G network on the Moon as part of plan to boldly go back to lunar surface by 2024

NASA has hired Nokia to build a 4G network on the Moon, paying the telecoms manufacturer $14.1m to set up a communications system that will give astronauts voice, data, triangulation, and video-on-demand. This little detail was among 14 contract awards from the space agency for its planned Project Artemis Moon landing in 2024 …

  1. HildyJ Silver badge
    WTF?

    China?

    Awaiting the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announcement that Huawei will provide 5g for their moon program.

    This all seems a bit (a ferabyte?) premature, although I'm not surprised. I would also not rule Trump or Xi flag waving having a hand in this.

    1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

      Re: China?

      Four years is really short time frame for government. This isn't the oonly contract I've sen go by like this either. Now, the question is whether they meet the deadlines. As usual with .gov, I'm not terribly optimistic. Sigh.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: China?

        The Nokia Moon 4G base station is actually now almost off-the-shelf stuff, because it was originally prepared for a private German Moon project that went bancrupt (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PTScientists). The BTS was flight-ready, but the launch was canceled.

        So whatever missed deadlines there will be, they will NOT happen because of the 4G hardware!

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: China?

        with .gov, we got into space, to the moon, to mars .....

    2. devTrail

      Re: China?

      5G is specialised for high bandwidth, but on a short range and with no obstacles between sender and receiver, it doesn't seem very appropriate for what is needed on the moon.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: China?

        At least there won't be any idiots up there to complain about the made up effects of 5G on their simple minds, and their health.

        Where's the tinfoil hat icon?

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: China?

        5G is not just high bandwidth, also low latency and high capacity. I imagine they have use cases for the 4G they're installing, though

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Purely on grounds of practicality

    Isn't the horizon rather close on the moon? It strikes me that you might need either a very tall antenna to get anything radio-visible over the horizon, or lots of cells (or possibly both).

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

      At least a 100m mast won't need much in the way of guy wires...

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

        beware the solar winds :)

        Seriously, it will may well need them due to moon-quakes - lots of seismic activity

      2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

        I think the neighbours might have something to say when they apply for planning permission. Blasted NIMBCs (not in my back crater). Tangle with black monoliths at your peril.

        1. richardcox13

          Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

          > monoliths

          Soup dragons are more of an immediate issue. And NASA has previously been beaten back by the Clangers.

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

      True, but there'll be no need to dig out the 4/3 earth paper.

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

      How far are you expecting them to travel?

      From the article: “deployable hopper lander capable of carrying a 1kg payload more than 1.5 miles.” - that implies to me that they're working on a 1.5 mile radius.

      Probably not coincidentally, the horizon on the moon is taken as being around 1.5 miles away. (that's based on eyes at 5'7)

    4. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Purely on grounds of practicality

      Isn't the horizon rather close on the moon?

      Isn't the horizon always off in the distance? Trying to be sarcastic, but the poster may be on to something...

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Coat

    Can't wait to see the phones

    I have enough trouble hitting the right characters on an on-screen keyboard at the best of times, I'd hate to try it in a space suit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't wait to see the phones

      Will all be voice activated.

      Siri - open the pod bay doors

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Can't wait to see the phones

        Unless Microsoft gets there first..

        "You look like you're trying to open the pod bay doors? Do you need some help with that?... "

        1. sgp

          Re: Can't wait to see the phones

          I'm sorry Buzz, I'm afraid I can't do that.

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Can't wait to see the phones

        We're getting philosophical now. What happens if you scream in space and only Alexa hears it?

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Can't wait to see the phones

          Oh I dunno I can sort of see it now...

          "Alexa, play 'Walking on the moon' by 'The Police'"

          * bo, boop *

          "Alexa, play 'Walking on the moon' by 'The Police'"

          * bo, boop *

          "AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! YOU F&@£ING S+%&ING WASTE OF SPACE! AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!"

          * did you mean 'Rage Against The Machine'? *

      3. EvilDrSmith Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Can't wait to see the phones

        "I'm Siri, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that"

        Siri, erm Sorry...

  4. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo
    Coat

    Now the cost caused by ping-calls can be truely astronomical

    I'll get my coat

  5. NeilPost Silver badge

    5G

    Why not straight to 5G as the moon is a green field site :-)

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: 5G

      ....and a MPS (Moon Positioning System) constellation to keep it all singing from the same timing sheet.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: 5G

        Post Brexit, unleashed from EU shackles, Blightly can extend the OneWeb satellite constellation to cover the Moon as well.

        Note to Boris, Cummings and the Cabinet Office - see the icon -->

    2. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: 5G

      Probably because they were worried a load of QAnon 5G weaponised bats idiots would burn the base station down...

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: 5G

        Probably because they were worried a load of QAnon 5G weaponised bats idiots would burn the base station down...

        I would love to see them try.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 5G

        I await the first panic about the moon radiating the brains of anyone seeing it in the sky due to a 5G base station on it

    3. devTrail

      Re: 5G

      You already had an answer before posting your comment, see later, later Re: China?, but the moderation has become quite slow.

  6. anonanonanonanonanon

    Wonder what the roaming charges will be?

    1. Lexib
      Coat

      I'll say it so you don't have to... They'll be Astronomical

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wonder if Three will include the Moon in their Go Roam to avoid extra charges.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Protesters

    I wonder when the objections to unsightly masts, spoiling the pristine lunar surface, will start rolling in?

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Protesters

      ...or a step towards covid on the moon

  8. Scott 53

    No point in using it to connect to Spotify

    In space nobody can hear you stream

  9. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Will the moon have its own country code? We can't use the letters for MOON on the keypad because +66 is already taken by Thailand. What about +LUN (+586)? Nope, it's taken by Venezuela. Knowing the Americans, they'll introduce it into the NANP and give it a US area code. I'm sure the Chinese won't be happy about that.

    So something neutral. Like +890. There are ten unused country codes from 890 to 899 - maybe these could be used for different networks on the moon. This would be a fantastic money-making opportunity. But you'll always have people complaining about the delay and asking if anything can be done about it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe just use the '000' prefix, as the "interplanetery dialling prefix"?

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Many. many years from now...

    ...when men actually do return to the moon.

    "Bloody hell! Have you seen you slow the internet is up here?".

    Always remember that if you think you are planning for the future, unless you have a working crystal ball you're actually pissing money up the wall.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. dr john

    Oops

    I can just see the next generation of moonwalkers out there for the first time, using the 4g network.

    Astronaut Fred spots something very interesting some distance away from the lander module and pulls out his mobile phone (hopefully not activated by fingerprint recognition) to report his exciting find.

    He lifts the phone up to the side of his helmet and says....

    "Damn, didn't spot that communication problem, did they."

    1. sgp

      Re: Oops

      If it's the next generation, they'll just post a silly moon dance on Tik Tok.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Oops

        Not the moon walk, I hope

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hello?hello?

    Can you hear me? I'm on the moon. I SAID, I'M ON THE MOON.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: hello?hello?

      Nah: it's rubbish.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So now they want lunar wifi

    There seems to be a lot of hubbub going on about the Moon all of a sudden. Where's the money to put all that stuff in rockets to get it there ?

    There is no real political will to go back to the Moon. There is scientific will, but scientists don't have any money.

    Then you have Musk, be he wants to go to Mars, not the Moon.

    I don't see any of that stuff being used on the Moon before a looong time.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: So now they want lunar wifi

      Same thing as the last time. National flag waving. Americans have to beat the Chinese to it. (The Russians do not appear to be in the game any more).

  15. devTrail

    Behind the marketing

    I suspect that they are selling dreams of men walking on the moon while they are preparing a network for a lot of robots, the Moon will probably become the target for mining robots and the test bed for the robot technology to be used on other planets in the future.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given that where I work sometimes seems bleaker than the moon

    the mobile networks here are well placed to ensure that coverage is similarly below lunar standards.

  17. Imhotep Silver badge

    Bell Labs

    I didn't know that Nokia now owned the former Bell Labs. A lot of history there and they developed a lot of technology we all use.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Bell Labs

      They bought it as part of Alcatel Lucent about 6 years ago

  18. jonfr

    No risk of signal detection on Earth from the Moon

    At the distance of 384.400 km on average there is little to no risk of signal interference from Earth or towards the Moon with my best knowledge. With no frequency plan for the Moon, NASA is going to have a wide range of frequency to use. I am guessing NASA is going to use something that is used in the United States already or is going to be used by 2024 and has high data ability for 4G network and that is up to 1Gbps speeds locally.

    There are some clues that FM and Television signals might be usable on the Moon. But looking for an answer for that question didn't give me a clear answer for that question.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: No risk of signal detection on Earth from the Moon

      Oh, so there probably won't be TV and radio stations on the moon broadcasting like they do on earth.

      1. jonfr

        Re: No risk of signal detection on Earth from the Moon

        When I was writing the comment it was meant as FM and VHF/UHF signals from Earth to the Moon. I don't think however that such station would be able to be picked up on Earth if it was broadcasting on the Moon. But radio armatures have been doing signal bouncing off the Moon for few decades, it works but not without a lot of problems and signal pathway problems.

        NASA won't have any problems getting signal from the Moon since they can get a signal from beyond Pluto from a 12W transmitter that New Horizon uses at 8 - 12Ghz.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: No risk of signal detection on Earth from the Moon

      If they want 1Gbps via 4G, they'll be using a lot of carriers, carrier aggregation and MIMO. Vanilla SISO LTE in 20MHz of spectrum (the largest a single carrier can be) offers ~75Mbps @ 64QAM.

      They'll probably have it a bit easier as they won't be having large numbers of mobiles to worry about, so the RF schedulers will be quite lightweight, and the "atmospheric loss" in the propagation model will be greatly reduced (also presumably it will all mostly be line of sight, perhaps antennas built into the space suit). I don't think they'll have that much trouble streaming 4K video, if they wanted to.

      Frequency plan? Probably the higher frequencies as the range is unlikely to be a worry, and no worry about getting indoor coverage.

  19. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    smashed screens

    Smashed screens will be rarer, thanks to the moon's decreased gravity. Opportunity for sales of rubber cases on the moon will be poor. I predict that in moon shopping centres, there won't be those small stands where they sell phone cases and replace broken screens. That'll be just one of many differences you'll notice when shopping on the moon.

  20. Inspector71
    Happy

    Slightly Disappointed

    Pity they hadn't included some old school 2G kit. Then they could have just given all the astronauts a bunch of original 3310s that someone had lying around in a drawer. Pretty sure they would work on the moon.

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