Technology & Science

Mobile phone network on Moon planned for 2018 to connect 2 rovers and base

The moon will get its first mobile phone network next year, enabling high-definition streaming from the lunar landscape back to earth, Vodafone, Nokia and Audi have announced.

Vodafone, Nokia, Audi and PTScientists working on private moon mission using SpaceX rocket

A screenshot from a promotional video from Vodafone shows a lander and rover on the moon. Vodafone, Nokia and Audi say they will build a 4G mobile network to link the lander and two rovers during a 2019 privately funded mission to the moon. (Vodafone)

The moon will get its first mobile phone network next year, enabling high-definition streaming from the lunar landscape back to earth, part of a project to back a privately funded moon mission.

Vodafone Germany, network equipment maker Nokia and carmaker Audi said on Tuesday they were working together to support the mission, 50 years after the first NASA astronauts walked on the moon.

The mission is led by Berlin-based PTScientists and is set to launch in 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Called simply Mission to the Moon, its goal is to approach and study NASA's Apollo 17 lunar rover, which was used in 1972 by the last astronauts to walk on the moon, Commander Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

During the mission, Nokia Bell Labs will create a "space-grade ultra compact network" with gear weighing less than one kilogram, and Vodafone will use it to set up the 4G network to connect two Audi lunar quattro rovers to a base station, the companies said in a release.

A simulation of a Vodafone project to install a 4G mobile phone network on the moon in 2019 was on display during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Feb. 27. (Daniel Schwartz/CBC)

The companies aim to achieve the first privately funded Moon landing.

They have a lot of competition, however, thanks to the Google Lunar X Prize launched in 2007, which promised $30 million US in prizes to teams that send a mission to the moon by March 31, 2018. Five companies have been awarded $5.25 million for their progress so far, and some say they plan to launch in 2018.

With files from CBC News

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