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Commercial Earth-Moon Communication

We cannot repeat Apollo. We must develop commercial operations on the Moon or there is simply no reason to go back.

We cannot run a commercial operation on the Moon with out bandwidth, big bandwidth.

Present Situation

NASA missions to the Moon communicate back to Earth on by radio frequency (RF) in the X and L bands. These bands may not be used for commercial applications by law.

The Moon is legally considered part of the near-Earth environment. Only RF frequencies allocated for commercial uses on Earth can be used for commercial Earth-Moon communications. All available bands are currently allocated. None are allocated for commercial Earth-Moon communications. When a band becomes open, as one did recently, it sells for billions of dollars. A fledgling commercial Moon operation could not possibly bid in such a high-stakes auction.

Until this problem is solved, all lunar commercialization ideas are on hold.

Optical Option

One option is to develop optical Earth-Moon communications. The transmitter is basically a laser attached to a small telescope. The receiver is a solid state sensor attached to a somewhat larger telescope. This equipment is considerably smaller than that used for comparable RF communications and has a far greater bandwidth.

One problem with optical communications systems is cloud penetration. This may be addressed by first: inferred frequencies penetrate the clouds best. Second, locations for the Earth stations must be in areas with a minimum amount of cloud cover such as the American Southwest. Third, a minimum of two, and preferably three, Earth stations must be visible from the Moon throughout the month.

These requirements suggest a system of optical stations around the world. Four or five Earth stations should do and they can be easily integrated with existing telephone facilities.

The lunar station will require two send/receive sets that can independently track the two best Earth sites at any time. They will have not cloud problem.

Testing Needed

An early test of optical communication between the Earth and Moon is needed.