Nokia Bell Labs is deploying the first cellular network on the Moon to demonstrate that cellular technologies can provide the critical communications needs for future lunar or Martian missions.

The mission, which is called IM-2, will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will ferry the Nova-C lander into space on a direct trajectory to the Moon. After a five-day journey, the Nova-C lander will descend to the lunar surface.

Once on the lunar surface, the Nova-C lander will automatically deploy Nokia's 4G/LTE network. Then two vehicles — the Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP) rover and the Intuitive Machines Micro-Nova hopper — will be deployed, both of which will link directly to the Nokia network.

Nokia hopes to prove that if it can build a network that can fully function on the Moon, it can then build a network that can function in the most extreme environments on Earth as well.

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