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The moon is getting its own mobile network

The first private moon landing in history could be happening as soon as 2018, thanks to a group of European engineers. The Berlin-based Part Time Scientists (PTScientists) have built a lander named ‘Alina’ and two rovers which will be deployed to find the NASA moon buggy left behind by Gene Cernan over 40 years ago.

PTScientists were deemed ineligible for Google’s $20 million Lunar X Prize as they couldn’t ensure a launch date for their probe before the end of 2017. But they still hope to beat the teams from the US, Israel and Japan who are currently competing.

PTScientists are working in partnership with Vodafone on a mobile data station, which will enable communication between the lunar rovers and their team back on Earth. This communications station, which will be attached to the Alina module, uses the same LTE technology present in smartphones as it consumes less power than radio and will support the transfer of larger volumes of data.

“This is a crucial first step for sustainable exploration of the solar system,” says PTScientists CEO Robert Boehme. “In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth, we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet. With ‘Mission to the Moon’ we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon.”

“With this step we are laying the groundwork for all future moon missions to come,” says Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany. PTScientists believe that establishing a functional communications infrastructure on the surface of the moon is a pivotal moment in humanity’s journey to being a “fully-fledged space-faring species.”

And PTScientists won’t be the moon’s only visitors in 2018; Elon Musk has stated that SpaceX will be flying two currently unnamed citizens there in the Dragon 2 capsule “late next year.”  Does the high-speed connectivity offered by the LTE network mean these two lucky tourists will have the necessary data coverage to post their lunar selfies to Instagram?

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