Astronauts will never miss a notification again.
Astronauts will never miss a notification again.

Image: Richard Wahlstrom / Getty Images

By Rachel Kraus

Soon, astronauts on moon missions won’t have any excuse for not answering their texts.

NASA has awarded Nokia of America $14.1 million to deploy a cellular network on the moon. The freaking moon. The grant is part of $370 million worth of contracts signed under NASA’s “Tipping Point” selections, meant to advance research and development for space exploration. 

Nokia’s plan is to build a 4G/LTE network, and eventually transition to 5G (just like the rest of us). It will be “the first LTE/4G communications system in space,” according to NASA’s announcement.

“The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards,” the announcement also reads.

To the moon! 🌕

We are excited to have been named by @NASA as a key partner to advance “Tipping Point” technologies for the moon, to help pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.

So, what technology can you expect to see? (1/6) pic.twitter.com/wDNwloyHdP

— Bell Labs (@BellLabs) October 15, 2020

Nokia’s research arm, Bell Labs, provided more details in a Twitter thread. The company intends for the network to support wireless operation of lunar rovers and navigation, as well as streaming video. 

The network is built to be compact and efficient, as well as “specially designed to withstand the extreme temperature, radiation and vacuum conditions of space.”

According to UPI, NASA said in a live broadcast of the announcement that the network would extend to spacecraft, and help develop technology fit for the moon. While there aren’t details about the timeline of this project becoming a reality, it’s all in support of NASA’s goal of having a lunar base on the moon by 2028, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in the broadcast. After all, how else would the astronauts be able to Instagram their moon walks?!