There is a lot It has changed since humans first landed on the moon. When the first prints of the space boot were left on the moon, people were strapped to their televisions while grainy footage of Apollo astronauts made their way to Earth. More than 50 years later, with a planned return to the Moon, it is only natural that the question arises: Will astronauts be able to tweet from the lunar surface?
An aerospace startup is trying to make it happen. Aquarian Space recently announced it had received $650,000 in seed funding to develop a potential broadband internet connection that would connect Earth to the Moon, and possibly even Mars.
The company aims to deploy its first communications system on the Moon by 2024 in anticipation of increased demand from planned space flights to the Moon and beyond, both public and private projects.
“In 2021, there were 13 landers, orbiters and rover vehicles on and around the Moon,” Aquarian Space CEO Kelly Larson said in a statement Thursday. “By 2030, we will have about 200, which will create a billion-dollar lunar economy. But this cannot happen without strong and reliable communications from the Earth to the Moon.”
Funding came from Draper Associates, a California-based company. Silicon Valley venture capitalists were also among the first to invest in private space company SpaceX.
How to get WiFi on the moon
The plan is to deploy a high-speed communications network that would allow communication between lunar missions and Earth.
Aquarian calls it Solnet, and it will use high-speed satellite networks to deliver at speeds of 100 megabits per second. It’s not fiber optic, but it will.
“Our space-based relay network allows you to send and receive large amounts of uninterrupted streaming data quickly and reliably, 24/7,” Aquarian Space states on its website. “Governments and commercial space explorers are relying on innovative commercial communications providers to meet this growing demand.”
After the appearance of the first satellite in 2024, another will follow in 2025 to cover the south pole of the moon. But the company did not specify what type of satellite this type of broadband connection would require. In addition, Aquarian Space has not yet secured a launch agreement for any of the satellites.
Meanwhile, European start-up Plus Ultra Space Outposts has entered into a launch agreement with Rocket Factory Augsburg for the last quarter of 2023 to deploy its communications satellite toward the moon.
SpaceX also has its own host of Starlink satellites that provide broadband internet connections around the world and plans to test these satellites later this year with the all-civilian Polaris Dawn mission. A special human spaceflight mission will attempt to use SpaceX’s satellites to communicate while in space.
Although Aquarian Space hasn’t revealed many details about how it plans to make this happen, it did say that it was reviewing technical aspects with several companies participating in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
CLPS will send several payloads and equipment to support NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission, which plans to land humans on the Moon by 2026.
Back to the moon
NASA is in the process of carrying out a major return to the lunar surface.
This time, when humans return to the moon, they plan to stay for a while. NASA plans to create a permanent lunar base on the Moon where astronauts can spend extended periods of time, possibly even launch to other destinations like Mars and beyond.
Ultimately, the Artemis program wants to create a sustainable presence of astronauts on the Moon, sending a crew to the lunar surface once a year. Unlike Apollo, Artemis’ mission is to shoot the south pole of the moon.
The wheels are already moving for Artemis, with a wet dress rehearsal for the Artemis I launch in April before the mission itself launches sometime in the summer.