A private company proposes to install data centers on the Moon with a test mission planned for the end of 2023 before proposing a commercial or institutional use.
The start-up Lonestar Data Holding based in Saint Petersburg in Florida wishes to propose a cloud service of data backup accessible on the Moon and which would be available when the main servers underwent losses during a fire, a natural disaster or an attack in particular.
The project began at the same time as the launch of the Artemis program because NASA not only wanted to send astronauts to the Moon, but also wanted to bring in a significant number of players that could support the lunar missions, both in activities directly related to the Artemis program on the Moon and in related commercial services.
NASA has identified the Artemis program as a way to use and equip the Moon for future space missions and to establish long-term facilities on its soil. To develop a real lunar economy, NASA has launched the Commercial Lunar Playload Services program, to support private missions to the Moon and to allow private flights to deploy various scientific instruments on its surface.
The equipment that will be installed on the Moon will have to cope with significant temperature differences between lunar day and night periods, rising from 120˚C to -180˚C. With Lonestar’s data centers installed on the Moon, if a mission loses data while on or near the Moon, it could recover it without needing to have it repatriated from Earth.
The startup has successfully raised $5 million in funding and will use Intuitive Machines’ IM-2 mission to send a data center demonstrator to the Moon in late 2023. Intuitive Machines, a privately held company, and its NOVA-C lander were notably selected by NASA to bring equipment to the surface of the Moon as part of the Artemis program. This new mission is sponsored by NASA as part of its commercial program and will last fourteen days, the length of a lunar day. Resistance to cold during the lunar night, which also lasts 14 days, will not be tested during the mission, but Lonestar says this problem should be partially solved by the unique characteristics of operating a data center that emits a lot of heat. The start-up hopes to have the first operational data center on the Moon by 2026.