27 Highlights to "3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Mobile Telecommunications Technology on the Moon"

Gunnar Larson g at xny.io
Mon Jun 5 14:47:26 PDT 2023

27 Highlights to "3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Mobile
Telecommunications Technology on the Moon"

Abstract— Under NASA’s Artemis program, NASA is planning
to send astronauts back to the Moon in the next couple of years.
Near term missions will be analogous but much more
sophisticated versions of the last couple of Apollo missions.
However, unlike Apollo, this time NASA intends to put the
infrastructure in place to support long term human presence
and eventual industrialization of the Moon. To make this vision
a reality, NASA plans to collaborate with commercial and
international partners as much as possible as opposed to
developing, building, and operating equipment on its own.
Lunar infrastructure will eventually be built over time by many
organizations, public and private, to support sustained human
exploration, science, and industrial activities. Obviously, this
vision for the future will be impossible without a robust lunar
communications and navigation system that can support many
users with varying degrees of services. On Earth, most people
are very familiar with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project
(3GPP) 5G mobile telecommunications technology. NASA’s
Space Technology Mission Directorate and NASA’s Space
Communications and Navigation office would like to see a lunar
communications and navigation network with similar
capabilities to the cellular communication networks most of us
enjoy today. Building such a network will require participation
by many organizations. This paper will provide an overview of
NASA’s interest in using 5G and beyond on the lunar surface;
it will also describe current work based on 3GPP standards
within NASA or funded by NASA, such as Nokia’s upcoming
Tipping Point demonstration of 4G / LTE on the lunar surface.

In the not-so-distant future, there will be a sustained human
and robotic presence on the Moon. As called out in NASA’s
“Moon To Mars Objectives” that was recently published, a
robust communications and navigation infrastructure will be
required to support and enable this vision. Like the Earth’s
internet, this infrastructure will need to increase in size and
probably complexity as the number of users and applications
grow. This “Lunar Internet of Things” will be a combination
of networks and services with multiple provider systems,
owned and operated by a combination of international and
commercial entities. LunaNet is NASA’s overall architecture
that envisions this robust communications and navigation
infrastructure. A key component will be a lunar surface
wireless network to support this upcoming sustained human
and robotic presence. The authors believe that 3GPP cellular
technologies and standards provide the ideal solution for this
lunar surface wireless network. A space qualified lunar 3GPP
network provides increased sustainable data rates, range,
mobility, reliability, and scalability over other wireless
technologies such as Wi-Fi, and fills a crucial role in the
overall LunaNet architecture to bring the lunar surface closer
to Earth.
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