by Debra Werner —
SAN FRANCISCO – Solstar Space will provide Wi-Fi access for crew and devices in the NASA lunar Gateway Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module, under a contract the New Mexico in-orbit communications startup signed with Northrop Grumman Corp.
Within the HALO module, which is scheduled to launch in 2024 and serve as an initial habitat for crews visiting the lunar Gateway, Solstar will provide Wi-Fi access through a device smaller than a laptop.
“Persistent connectivity is crucial for space-based operations,” Solstar co-founder Mark Matossian said in a statement.
The Solstar wireless access point “will provide a Wi-Fi network for connectivity that will support astronaut communications with ground control, the lunar surface and spacecraft, while also supporting payload integration, experiments and more,” Matossian added. “It will securely connect Wi-Fi-enabled components including computers and IoT sensors, creating a collection of space-based networked devices.”
Northrop Grumman is NASA’s prime contractor for the HALO module. The module is based on the company’s Cygnus cargo transportation vehicle.
Santa Fe-based Solstar develops communications technology for space applications. In 2018, Solstar demonstrated its Schmitt communicator, connecting spaceflight experiments with researchers on the ground during test flights of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital capsule.
More recently, Solstar has developed devices to create Wi-Fi hotspots for instruments and payloads mounted inside or outside various spacecraft.
“Future space-hardened units could be developed for surface of the moon operations, and used on rovers and habitation units,” Matossian said.
For communications in Earth orbit, Solstar transmits messages through commercial communications satellites.
In lunar orbit, NASA is exploring a concept called LunaNet that would rely on cooperating networks to provide interoperable communications and navigation services for missions operating on and around the Moon.