NASA’s Wi-Fi scheme tested on the moon to help bridge Cleveland’s digital divide

A new study by NASA shows how a planned WiFi network on the Moon could affect communities that lack reliable internet on Earth.

The Compass Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland conducted the study to solve communication problems on Earth as a test case for space. The local neighborhoods were compared to the size of a potential Artemis base camp near the moon’s south pole.

NASA’s plan for Wi-Fi on the Moon could affect Earth’s digital divide.
(NASA)

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Meanwhile, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, an economic development organization, turned to NASA for the most efficient way to provide Wi-Fi to nearly 31% of Cleveland homes without broadband access.

“We work on a spacecraft all day, and the secondary benefit of that is the development of technologies that go back to Earth,” said Compass Team Principal Steve Ollison. “How you connect all of these things, you’re not just saying blindly that you’re going to design a wireless system for the moon, but how you’re going to do it on Earth.”

Steve Olison told Fox News that the Compass Lab at NASA’s Glenn Research Center develops about 15 concepts each year to advance space travel in the United States.
(Stephen Gwen)

The study found that connecting Wi-Fi routers to nearly 20,000 light towers or other utility poles would help solve connectivity problems in Cleveland. If the routers are not more than 100 meters apart, a house of four can achieve a download speed of 7.5 megabits per second (Mbps).

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The same pole-based “nested network” approach has also been proposed for the Artemis base camp, which could be established before the end of the decade. Similar mesh networks were previously used on a small scale in homes and communities such as Brooklyn, New York.

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While the lunar Wi-Fi framework remains conceptual, current applications of the concept are already being explored in communities like the one that inspired it.

“We started a conversation with NASA Glenn and they were intrigued by the idea of ​​studying this further and using their expertise to solve this societal problem,” said Marty McGann, executive vice president of the Greater Cleveland Partnership for Advocacy and Strategy. “I think it really shows a possible solution for our society. I think some of them” [NASA’s] The next solutions might be to address the core issues facing our community, and that’s a big problem for us.”

A NASA study found that connecting Wi-Fi routers to nearly 20,000 light towers would help solve connectivity issues in Cleveland.

A NASA study found that connecting Wi-Fi routers to nearly 20,000 light towers would help solve connectivity issues in Cleveland.
(Stephen Gwen)

The City of Cleveland recently provided $20 million in US bailouts to tackle broadband expansion. Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, has also launched a call for proposals (RFP) asking businesses for affordable Internet access solutions across the county.

“If you can build this network on the Moon, I think we should be able to build it here! I never thought about how working in space would affect our work here… It really is a solid foundation for the future.” Finding solutions, and that’s what we want,” said Catherine Tkachik, Cuyahoga County Chief of Innovation and Performance.

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