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The moon is getting WiFi and we still have people on earth that can’t connect to the internet

The program is expected to start in 2024.

concept rendering of lunanet wifi network access on the moon
Image: NASA

Hey, before we get into the actual lede, did you know NASA is working to put astronauts back on the moon? No? Hmm, maybe they should shout it from everywhere as they did in the 60’s space race.

The program is called Artemis, with a 2024 schedule to put boots back on the moon, and one thing they’ve got planned is to blanket the moon in WiFi, so our astronauts have internet connectivity wherever they go.

It’s not just for on-moon connectivity though, as the so-called LunaNet will connect back to Earth so mission control has more ways to stay in touch with the intrepid moonwalkers. The internet-like plan started back in 2019 when the call went out for “lunar communications and navigation architectures.”

When in place, think of LunaNet as a smaller version of Earth’s internet, with some new tricks. It’ll have communications, so the astronauts can talk to whoever they need to, but that’s just the start.

In addition, LunaNet will also feature:

  • Positioning, navigation, and timing: similar to our terrestrial GPS systems
  • Detection and information: for identifying things like dangerous solar activity or lunar-based search and rescue
  • Science: to supply data to researchers back on Earth to better understand the moon.

The lunar surface is also perfect for things like radio telescopes to be erected, as they can be more accurate without the drawbacks of having their signals go through an atmosphere. Pretty cool stuff and all this information will also help in the project after that, which is to send astronauts to the surface of Mars.

Ahead of Artemis’ landing on the moon, Nokia is deploying LTE/4G to the surface of the moon, which should be operational in late 2022. This might also be the start of the LunaNet network, or perhaps it’s a temporary network while the rest of LunaNet gets built out.

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