It’s one thing being at the back of the queue for fast broadband – it’s quite another to see the moon pushing in ahead of you. But it’s true: in 2019, the moon will have its own 4G mobile network, powered by space-grade Nokia masts and Vodafone’s 4G signal.
While this may sound like a silly bit of PR fluff, the purpose is actually anything but: it’s to enable communication between two Audi lunar exploration vehicles, to improve the efficiency of moon exploration. It will also mean that HD video streaming of the moon will be visible from Earth. Perhaps most importantly, 4G is far more energy efficient than analogue radio signals used at present.
“In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth, we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet,” said Robert Böhme, CEO and founder of PTScientists, the Berlin-based space exploration that spearheaded the initiative. The great thing about this LTE solution is that it saves so much power, and the less energy we use sending data, the more we have to do science!”
It has been suggested that the various caves formed from long-gone lava could make an ideal camping spot, possibly in conjunction with 3D-printed campsites as a pit stop on the long-promised journey to Mars. And naturally having a functioning 4G network already in place will be handy for settlers – even if it proves to be frustratingly slow compared to whatever they’re used to on Earth by then.
Indeed, 5G was considered for the moon project – but given its still in testing phases, it was ruled out for stability reasons.
The mission will launch in 2019 from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – the Nokia-built masts will weigh “less than a bag of sugar” to keep the payload weight down.