We’ve seen various plans and efforts to bring Internet to the moon, but how about ordinary cell phone service? One startup called Part Time Scientists has detailed a plan to launch LTE connectivity on the moon’s surface, enabling the company’s rovers to communicate with the team back on Earth using something other than direct Earth communications. This will save both time and money.
This entire process is planned to take place next year, and it’ll be made possible in part by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Part Time Scientists, a German startup, already has a contract deal with SpaceX to send up its spacecraft, which is named Alina. The spacecraft will make a soft landing onto the moon, at which point a pair of Audi Lunar Quatro rovers will disembark and make their way to the Apollo 17 site.
Obviously, the team on Earth needs some way to communicate with its rovers on the moon, and they anticipate that being facilitated using the same cellular technology found on Earth. According to a statement made to Space.com, the company already has a deal in place with Vodafone for LTE base stations that will be going to the moon. This connectivity could be used both on the moon and to help get things to the moon.
Alina itself will serve as the base station, which will receive communications from the two rovers and then transmit the data back to the team on Earth. The Part Time Scientists team may end up notable as the first private entity to get to the moon’s surface, though that depends in part on whether any Google Lunar X Prize participants get there first.
While the initial base station will not be permanent, the company anticipates getting necessary data that will pave the way to bringing permanent cellular technology to the moon. This permanent network may then prove to be a vital means for communication for future moon missions.