Vodafone and Nokia aim for the moon
Vodafone and Nokia are to build a lunar telecoms network after teaming up to support the first privately funded mission to land on the moon, Financial Times reports.
The telecoms companies have backed plan by PT Scientists, a German space company, to land equipment on the surface of the moon in 2019. The 4G network, which will weigh less than a bag of sugar, will be used to live stream video and transmit data back to a mission control facility in Berlin. It will also allow the scientists to control two rovers, developed by Audi, that will revisit the 1972 landing site of Nasa’s Apollo 17 mission, the last time humans set foot on the moon.
Marcus Weldon, chief technology officer of Nokia and head of Bell Labs, said that the mission will be critical to future space exploration, as trips will require that equipment is able to perform in extreme conditions. “Whether it is meteor mining or lunar landing or Mars we have to learn how to communicate in space,” he said.
Robert Boehme, founder and chief executive of PT Scientists, said that the communications technology needs to be of the “highest possible level” and could determine future developments of the mobile and space industries. “This is about laying the foundations for future space exploration,” he said.
Mr Boehme explained that the computing power of a smartphone is vastly greater than the systems that were originally used to land on the moon. However creating a 4G system to communicate with earth is problematic particularly due to energy constraints with the small network reliant on solar power.
PT Scientists said the budget for the mission will run to tens of millions of dollars. It plans to use a Space X rocket but share it with other companies to offset the cost.