Nokia’s innovation research arm Bell Labs has been named by NASA as a key partner to advance “Tipping Point” technologies for the moon. NASA, through this project, aims at developing a range of technologies that will help forge a path to sustainable Artemis operations on the Moon by the end of the decade. Bell Labs will play a key role in developing a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.
Apart from Nokia’s Bell Labs, NASA has also selected 13 other American companies, including several small businesses across three solicitation topic areas of cryogenic fluid management, lunar surface, and closed-loop descent and landing capability demonstrations. The Artemis program plans to send the first woman to the lunar surface in 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence on the moon.
How Nokia’s Bell Labs will contribute to the NASA Project
The company’s research arm’s innovation will be used to build and deploy the first wireless network on the moon, starting with 4G or LTE technologies, which will then eventually evolve to 5G. The network will be the critical communications fabric for data transmission applications, including the control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation over lunar geography, as well as streaming of high definition video, says Bell Labs.
The company is working with its partner Intuitive Machines to develop this technology. The network will self-configure upon deployment and establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon. Nokia’s lunar network consists of an LTE Base Station with integrated Evolved Packet Core (EPC) functionalities, LTE User Equipment, RF antennas and high-reliability operations and maintenance (O&M) control software.
The mission critical LTE network developed by Bell Labs is capable of withstanding extreme temperature, radiation and vacuum conditions of space, as well as the sizable vibrational impact during launch and landing on the lunar surface. Furthermore, the fully integrated cellular network meets the stringent size, weight and power constraints of space payloads in the smallest possible form factor. The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards, says the NASA website.
Through the Tipping Point solicitation, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate seeks industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. The public-private partnerships established through Tipping Point selections combine NASA resources with industry contributions, shepherding the development of critical space technologies.