NASA is moving forward with its plans to build a base on the moon by 2028. The space agency has awarded $370 million in contracts to various companies to build out the infrastructure and technology that will be needed to sustain a human population on the base, which includes remote power generation, cryogenic freezing, and a 4G cell phone network.
The $14.1 million contract for the specially-designed 4G network was given to Nokia's Bell Labs. To bring cell service to space, Nokia will use small cell technology that takes up less space and requires less power than cell towers on Earth.
"The mission-critical LTE network we have developed has been specially designed to withstand the extreme temperature, radiation and vacuum conditions of space, as well as the sizable vibrational impact during launch and landing on the lunar surface," the company said.
Nokia said that the network will provide the "critical communications fabric for data transmission applications, including the control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation over lunar geography, and streaming of high definition video."
Bell Labs said that, over time, it will upgrade the network to 5G, which is just starting to roll out to consumers in the United States.
"We are excited to see our investments and collaborative partnerships bring about new technologies for the Moon and beyond while also benefiting the commercial sector," said Jim Reuter, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Technology.
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