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Audi Is Helping Give the Moon a Cell Phone Network

The automaker is already working to send a vehicle to the Moon.

It doesn’t seem likely that humans will start living on the Moon anytime soon, but Audi is teaming up with Vodafone and Nokia to give Earth’s sole natural satellite its own cell-phone network. The three companies hope to have it up and running by next year, reports Reuters.

The companies said the cell network will be a prelude to a privately-funded Moon mission. Nokia will develop the actual hardware which, because every added ounce makes it that much harder to lift a spacecraft beyond Earth’s gravity, must weigh less than a bag of sugar. The companies will stick with a 4G network rather than 5G because that technology is still relatively new, and its reliability isn’t proven.

The three companies will work with German contingent PTScientists (short for Part Time Scientists), and are aiming for a 2019 launch. The hardware will be put in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and launched from Cape Canaveral, according to Vodafone.

Audi is already working with PTScientists to develop a lunar rover, as part of a bid to claim the $20 million Google-funded Lunar XPrize. Dubbed “Audi Lunar Quattro,” the electric rover features all-wheel drive, just like Audi’s terrestrial cars, but with six wheels instead of four. If all goes well, the Lunar Quattro could be the first wheeled vehicle to traverse the Moon since the original Boeing/General Motors lunar rovers landed there more than 40 years ago.