The startup Lonestar intends to become a telecom pioneer in space, with a first lunar data center test planned for 2023.
Lonestar, a company specializing in cloud computing, announced on April 19 that it had requested a new partnership with Intuitive Machines (IM), a new partner whose profile is surprising; the firm has nothing to do with these technologies, and usually deals with developing landers. An expertise on which Lonestar intends to rely to deploy the very first data center lunar.
Initially, the two partners will start by testing the technological bases of the concept during IM-1, the very first lunar mission of Intuitive Machines scheduled for the end of the year. On the other hand, the prototype of data center will not be on the trip; it will only be a “virtual payload” which will validate the operation of the software side.
If these tests are successful, Lonestar then intends to test the hardware during a proof of concept in real conditions. For now, Lonestar relies on a machine developed by Skycorp, an American company specializing in orbital logistics. It takes the form of a minidata center 1kg for 16 TB, comparable in size to a large hardcover book.
He will take part in IM-2, the second lunar mission of Intuitive Machines. For this mission scheduled for 2023, the data center will be loaded aboard a Nova-C lander from Intuives Machines. The latter will reach the Moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher, thus allowing Lonestar to begin the first phase of testing in real conditions.
A long regulatory and administrative way of the cross
But there is still a long way to go before reaching this deadline. For now, it is still in the validation stage; he still has to obtain the necessary certifications from the administration. And that is a lot of work.
Indeed, having space equipment certified is already a relatively long process normally. But because of its particular activity, Lonestar will also have to show your credentials to telecom regulators. The firm has also announced that it has filed applications in the United Kingdom to reserve its place on the S, X and Ka frequency bands.
If Lonestar is compelled to all these steps, it is because the firm firmly believes in its project. By thus placing its first pawns, it aims to become a pioneer in telecoms and the lunar cloud. She would then become a leading hub for commercial and scientific missions; and this could bring him very, very big in the current context where space is developing at high speed.
She also believes that such a network could be of interest to earthlings. It could for example serve as “digital safe” where different actors could store data in the event of a disaster on Earth.
“Almost reversed” issues with respect to the Earth
Lonestar believes that a data center moon has many interesting points from a strictly technological point of view. “The main issues inherent in terrestrial data centers – the energy needed to power them, to cool them, the price of communications – are very different in space”, explains CEO Chris Stott in an interview with SpaceNews.
“They would even be almost reversed”, he insists. He assures that on the Moon, this equipment would be “cheaper to use” and much less energy intensive. “For example, the heat generated by equipment becomes an advantage in space, where we have to work hard to keep our equipment warm.”, he specifies.
For the moment, this prototype which will reach the Moon in 2023 will not even be able to supply itself with energy autonomously; he will be forced to draw on the lander’s reserves. Eventually, Lonestar hopes to be able to offer a data center autonomous lunar, but not before 2026 at the earliest.
The firm intends to renew the experience with increasingly powerful and bulky prototypes. It will therefore be very interesting to follow the progress of these first two missions, in particular that of 2023. Obviously, the calendar is at take with tweezers, as always in aerospace; but if all goes well, they could have a considerable impact on the development of extraterrestrial telecoms.