The moon may get its first mobile phone network in 2019. Vodafone Germany, Nokia and carmaker Audi will set up the network as part of the first privately funded mission to the moon, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The companies are working with Berlin-based PTScientists. The launch is scheduled for 2019 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Vodafone said.
“This project involves a radically innovative approach to the development of mobile network infrastructure,” Vodafone Germany’s Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter said.
An unidentified executive at the telecom company said the firms had decided to set up a 4G network rather than the advanced 5G network as it is still in the testing and trial stage and may not function from the lunar surface.
The mobile phone network would support PTScientists’ two Audi Quattro rovers and the landing module, Space.com reported. The company is planning to study the lunar rover that the Apollo 17 astronauts had used during their historic December 1972 mission to the moon’s Taurus-Littrow Valley. It was the last mission of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, during which humans walked on the moon.
“This important mission is supporting...the development of new space-grade technologies for future data networking, processing and storage, and will help advance the communications infrastructure,” Nokia’s Chief Technology Officer Marcus Weldon said. “These aims have potentially wide-ranging implications for many stakeholders and humanity as a whole.”