New satellite constellation for Moon-to-Earth comms to launch by 2025

The new network could play a vital role in future plans to establish a permanent colony on the Moon.
Chris Young
The Moon.

With NASA aiming to establish a permanent colony on the Moon with its upcoming Artemis missions, it will need a robust communication network linking it to Earth.

Lockheed Martin has just announced that it believes it has the solution to NASA's communications requirements with its new Parsec Moon-to-Earth satellite network. The new network is in development by the Lockheed Martin spinoff Crescent Space.

A new Moon-to-Earth communication network

The Parsec network will utilize a constellation of small lunar satellites to provide 24/7 connectivity and navigation capabilities for astronauts, their equipment, and mission control on Earth.

Lockheed Martin explains in a press statement that the new technology could prove to be vital for future lunar explorers as it could provide a form of lunar GPS. It would essentially allow astronauts to know their exact position and the direction back to base.

Lockheed Martin said it will provide the satellites and that Crescent Space's first Parcec nodes should be operational by 2025.

Improving navigation on the Moon

Crescent Space is looking to secure important customers for its network, with CEO Joe Landon, formerly of Lockheed Martin, stating the firm is "well positioned" to support NASA's Artemis Moon landings.

The company isn't the only one building a GPS-like system for the Moon, however. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd is also developing a satnav satellite for the Moon.

Private firm Draper, meanwhile, the first company to secure a private contract with NASA for its historic Apollo missions, is also developing a navigation system that will track an astronaut's route through the harsh terrain of the lunar south pole, allowing them to pinpoint their location. The key difference is that that system will not rely on satellites.

NASA will, of course, slowly build up to that permanent presence on the Moon. The space agency will perform a crewed lunar flyby with its Artemis II mission next year before aiming to finally send humans back to the lunar surface with its Artemis III mission in 2025.

Artemis III will send the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface, and it will be the first mission to land humans on the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

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