The moon will soon have cellphone service, according to an announcement made by telecommunications giants Tuesday.
Vodafone and Nokia have partnered with Berlin-based company PTScientists to bring 4G network and live video streaming to the moon in 2019. Other high-profile companies such as SpaceX and car manufacturer Audi will also assist in the project.
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It is slated to be the first non-government funded mission to the moon.
Here’s how the mission will work
The telecom companies will first work to create a “space-grade network,” projected to weigh less than one kilogram, a press release explained.
The network will be used to connect two rovers that Audi will create. The lunar Quattro rovers will be able to communicate and transfer the data they collect, including HD video, back to those monitoring the mission on Earth.
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The rovers’ main objective will be to inspect NASA’s Apollo 17, which was left behind by astronauts in 1972.
The system will be transported to the moon by Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sometime in 2019.
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Robert Böhme, who is the founder of PTScientists, explained in a press release that the infrastructure created by this mission will be instrumental in future missions as well.
“This is a crucial first step for sustainable exploration of the solar system,” Böhme said. “With Mission to the Moon, we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon.”
Better service than parts of the world
News of the mission prompted discussion online about parts of the world that still struggle to have network coverage.
Twitter users from around the world complained telecom companies are prioritizing the moon mission over places on Earth, such as rural communities and developing countries and cities.
While access to the internet is rapidly increasing around the world, there are still many areas that have trouble connecting. According to a May 2016 report from the World Economic Forum, more than four billion people don’t have access to the internet.
Most are located in developing countries, but there are places without internet access even in wealthy nations.