NASA is currently in the early stages of developing the LunaNet, an Internet network on the Moon that goes beyond exchanging information between astronauts in space and people on Earth. The agency plans to build a vast infrastructure around the moon to connect everything from a human habitation, a new space station, and a lunar network service.
“All the cell towers and Wi-Fi hot spots on Earth today, and the things that provide network connectivity, have changed the way we work in our daily lives,” says Dave Israel, principal investigator for NASA’s Goddard Space Program. Aviation center. What we want to do today is make this experience available to astronauts and robotic missions to the Moon, and then extend it to Mars and wherever we go.
But it is not without challenges; Because data transmission between the Earth and the Moon is not easy, especially since the South Pole of the Moon and its distance does not directly face the Earth. Transportation is another obstacle because there are not many trips to the moon, which means it may take a long time to transport lunar internet equipment. We await several upcoming launches, the first of which will be the manned “Artemis 2” mission in 2024, which will include tests of lunar communication technology. However, the researcher does not expect this technology to be fully ready and operational by the end of this decade.
On Earth we use satellites that have been in orbit for years to connect to the network. Companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon are currently building networks of thousands of satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide fast service from space. In turn, the International Space Station also has its own connection to the Internet, unlike the Moon.
Kelly Larson, CEO of Aquarian Space, a startup focused on lunar communications, explains, “The data rates customers currently receive on the moon are not a connection, but a battle for connectivity.”
To improve the service, NASA plans to launch lunar satellites that will communicate with each other and then connect to communications infrastructure on Earth. In the case of the lunar south pole, a remote area that NASA hopes astronauts will eventually reach, switching between spacecraft is considered a viable solution. The company also intends to deploy a fleet of ground stations that will play the role of cell towers on the lunar surface.
Private companies play an important role in building new Internet infrastructure. Aquarien Space, for example, plans to launch the first group of lunar communications satellites in the second quarter of 2025, and hopes that its technology will finally succeed in delivering 100 megabits per second without interference to the lunar surface. NASA is also collaborating with Nokia to build a cellular network for the Moon using fourth-generation technology. Nokia won a $14 million contract from the company, and its first platforms and radio equipment are set to launch to the moon next year on a SpaceX rocket.
In turn, the European Space Agency is working on a parallel project called “Moonlight,” which is based on contracting companies to build lunar communications infrastructure.
These plans to speed up the use of Internet connectivity on the Moon are aimed at securing basic logistics. As the number of human and robotic observers on the lunar surface increases,
The need for communication networks to help determine directions, such as the popular GPS technology on Earth, will increase. The “Luna Net” project could help in monitoring astronauts’ health and lunar weather conditions, as well as organizing activities on the lunar surface and in its orbit.