You won’t find astronauts using Facebook Live on the moon. Nor, this is an effort to establish lunar colonies in the near future. The 4G network is being deployed to provide network infrastructure for a private moon mission by PTScientists (Part Time Scientists), Vodafone Germany, and Audi.
In 2019, two Audio lunar Quattro rovers will be shipped to the moon aboard PTScientists’ ALINA (Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module) spacecraft. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will be used as the launch vehicle to put ALINA outside of earth’s atmosphere.
The rovers, funded by Audi, were also developed by PTScientists team back in 2016 for the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.
As a part of the mission, the rovers will visit the Apollo 17 landing site on the moon after more than 45 years. There they’ll examine the Apollo 17 lunar roving vehicle aka “moon buggy,” which was left behind by NASA astronauts after their moonwalk in 1972.
Vodafone has appointed Nokia Bell Labs as the technology partner to set up a lightweight space-grade ultra-compact network that will weight “less than a kilo, the same as a bag of sugar.”
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The 4G network (over 1800MHz frequency band) will help the Audi rovers provide scientific data and HD video footage to ALINA. The data will be sent back to PTScientists’ servers at the Mission Control Center in Berlin via a deep space link.