4G LTE service coming to the Moon

Only twelve people have walked on the Moon. Twelve. From the moment Neil Armstrong made one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind to when Gene Cernan left the Moon in December 1972 stating that we would return the Moon was a fixture in our imaginations. Since then it has been explored by rovers and satellites while the world dreams of establishing our first off-world base on the lunar landscape. When that does happen there will be one thing that already exists on the Moon that will make life much easier, a cell phone network.

Yes, the Moon, with a population of 0 (at least that we know of) will have a cellular network. Telecommunications giants Vodafone and Nokia are teaming up to launch a 4G LTE network on the Moon. Obviously no people will be using it but it will be used. The network will be used by lunar rovers to transmit information back to a base station for transmission back to Earth.

The information transmitted will include high definition video and photographs as well as scientific experiments that will help us to explore the Moon without putting any people in danger. The power that is required to transmit the vast amount of information to Earth is something that these two small and agile rovers cannot handle but the larger base station can. A 4G network will allow for the transmissions over a shorter distance to the base station which can use its more powerful equipment to transmit back to Earth. This means that HD video will be able to be streamed live from the Moon.

The mission is being funded by Germany-based PTScientists and will be launched with a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral in 2019. The primary mission is to explore the Taurus-Littrow Valley where Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and the Apollo 17 lunar module landed. One of the missions is to explore the area around the rover that was left behind. The 4G technology will weight less than 1 kilogram making the rovers easier to maneuver and potentially longer lasting.

There is already some controversy related to this mission. Many people are questioning why the Moon needs a cellular network when there are places on the Earth that do not have it. In fact the number of places around the world, even in populated areas, that lack cell phone coverage is quite surprising. PTScientists argue that much of the technology that we use today was developed originally for space exploration and that this may be the first small step towards the human race leaving the Earth. At the very least ET will be able to phone home now!

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