Irish tech firm Druid helps NASA put 5G broadband on the moon

NASA’s plans to put broadband on the moon by late 2022 are being helped by Wicklow-based company Druid Software.

In October 2020, NASA announced that it intends to have a communications system in place on the moon by late 2022.

Two key players working behind-the-scenes on this project are the University of Colorado at Boulder and Bray Co Wicklow firm Druid Software.

“We also share NASA’s vision of deploying mobile networks on other planets in the solar system in the future but, as they say, first things first”

Computer scientists at the university are using Druid’s Raemis platform for mobile private Long Term Evolution (LTE 4G) and 5G network interoperability testing.

Partnering with Prof. Kevin Gifford and PhD researcher, Siddartha Subray, Druid is helping to ensure the highest quality of service to specific critical use cases and devices.

Out of this world technology

According to Druid sales director Michael O’Dwyer, the company is ideally suited to this project as it has been deploying Raemis for critical communication with its partners for over 20 years.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia is also involved in the project.

“These technologies will work in space the exact same way you and I use them on Earth now,” the head of SFU’s PolyLAB for Advanced Collaborative Networking Stephen Braham explained.

“We are very excited to see these missions use these networks on the surfaces of other worlds in our solar system,” he added.

Working with Prof. Gifford and Subray, SFU operates the Canadian component of what is called the Exploration Wireless Communications (ExWC) test bed. ExWC will enable the scientists to build the technology standards that will get cellular networks on the moon and beyond.

However, before space agencies can adopt these technologies, SFU needs to prove it can operate between multiple vendors and different agencies.

This is where Druid’s Raemis platform is proving to be a major component of the project. According to Prof. Gifford, its open architecture, simple deployment and scalability mean that it is well placed for the team’s purposes.

Raemis is a mature 5G core technology with unique features, allowing business and mission critical communications for Fixed Wireless Access and Enterprise users. It can be deployed in conjunction with a variety of Radio Access Networks and has been tested around the world.

“The challenges of putting a communications network on the moon are considerable. As global experts in mobile communications and their interoperability, Druid’s involvement makes perfect sense,” O’Dwyer said.

“Druid thrives on challenges and we like to partner up with other businesses and entities to make mobile communications better and easier in difficult and often remote circumstances. So, putting a network on the moon is well within our territory. We also share NASA’s vision of deploying mobile networks on other planets in the solar system in the future but, as they say, first things first.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 1 June 2021

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