Lunar Communications Network Topology Analysis (Internal Research Study) Proposal

Author: @philiplinden Date: 2023-08-07 Link to proposal on Google Docs


Write a proposal for NASA’s NextSTEP-2 solicitation and submit it by August 7, 2023 with the goal of receiving funding to research Mesh, Star, Unstructured, and Hybrid network topologies for lunar communications.


DateSummary of ChangesReason for Revision
2023-08-02First draft.
2023-08-07- Removed NextSTEP-2 proposal submission from OKRs.

- Restructured objective to be an internal technical study.

- Added “unstructured” networks to the list of topologies to be analyzed.
NextSTEP-2 proposal submission deadline has passed.

Problem Statement

NASA is offering up to $800k to fund industry-led studies of, among a couple of other topics, “Constellation Topology Analysis” to inform future communication and navigation activities. The solicitation asks for a proposed approach to analyze Mesh, Star, and Hybrid network topologies.

See Enclosure A, Study Area 3:

MoonDAO has an interest in understanding network topologies for lunar operations, with special interest in decentralized paradigms.


Create an outline of the effort and tools needed to complete an analysis of the impact Mesh, Star, Unstructured, and Hybrid network topologies have on decentralized and open access lunar services.

The outline should include the following:

  • A description of the three network topologies (Mesh, Star, Unstructured, Hybrid) and network protocols for each 
  • A description of the decentralized and open access lunar services that will be analyzed
  • A description of the methods that will be used to analyze the impact of the network topologies on the services
  • CONOPS and operational considerations
  • Security considerations and encryption methodologies
  • Implications for existing network architectures and prime actors (LunaNet, Moonlight, Surrey Pathfinder, Crescent, US, China, …)
  • Test plan and methodology 
  • Opportunities for future research
  • Opportunities for funding (applicable grants, proposals, partnerships, etc)

Complete an internal study of the absolute and relative performance of Mesh, Star, Unstructured, and Hybrid network topologies in the context of lunar communications, with a special focus on decentralized infrastructure. The work related to this study may include but is not limited to

  • Creating scripts, models, or simulations of communications network topologies
  • Creating data-driven metrics to evaluate each topology
  • Documenting research and development actions: actions taken, obstacles and their resolutions, missteps and mistakes, successes and surprises, and lessons learned.
  • Preparing a document that discusses analysis methods and results.


Understanding the benefits and drawbacks to different arrangements of connections between network nodes (ie, network topologies) is central to the ability to architect a sustainable, usable Lunar communications network.

MoonDAO has an interest in stewarding the lunar “commons” in order to achieve a sustainable framework for decentralized governance on the Moon. If MoonDAO wishes to contribute to lunar communications architectures, we should understand the interaction between network topology, communication & navigation, and governance.

Performing analysis and research strengthens MoonDAO’s capacity to engage with the industry, builds a repository of knowledge, and potentially leads to the creation of engineering tools that could be used for future projects. This is especially true if the conclusions are based on open data and code, and publishing on DeSci to demonstrate reproducibility.

The Open Lunar Foundation has verbally expressed support for this analysis, but has made no commitments as of yet. The Open Lunar Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the development of the Moon. MoonDAO is a community-based organization that is also dedicated to the development of the Moon. It will be valuable to establish how the MoonDAO community and Open Lunar could work together to receive NASA funding. This will be especially important as MoonDAO continues into stage 3 of the roadmap.

If NASA awards our proposal funding, we could potentially receive funding to compensate contributors’ efforts rather than spending from the DAO’s treasury. Receiving an award from NASA would strengthen MoonDAO’s reputation as a credible member of the space community.


  1. We don’t submit time, or we don’t receive an award. The consequence of this is that we miss out on an opportunity to bring funding to the DAO, and would not be able to compensate contributors for their engineering effort. All the materials generated from this proposal could be reused in future work.

    Missed deadline MoonDAO did not submit a proposal.

    This risk was realized―

  2. There are insurmountable legal roadblocks that prevent MoonDAO from being awarded NASA funds. It would be helpful to understand what obstacles lie in the way for MoonDAO to receive NASA funding. For example, an acceptable outcome would be to learn for certain whether MoonDAO can be awarded funds directly,  and if it is necessary to use another entity (such as Open Lunar Foundation or another partner) as a legal proxy. The MIDAO status is not complete, so MoonDAO doesn’t currently have an official entity in real life that can receive funds directly.

Objectives and Key Results:

You can write as many OKRs as you think are needed. One OKR is fine if that captures the full extent of what you want to achieve. One focused goal is preferred instead of many. Objectives should use SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

Objective #1: Complete a proposal for this NextSTEP-2 solicitation (Study Area #3 only).


This objective has been removed since the deadline has passed and we did not submit a proposal to NASA.

Key Results for Objective #1: 

  • Create an outline of the effort and tools needed to complete a network topology analysis.
  • Determine how much funding to ask from NASA as part of this project.
  • Create a proposal from the outline that meets the NextSTEP-2 submission requirements.
  • Submit the proposal before August 7, 2023.

Member(s) responsible for OKR and their role:

Objective #2: Set up an internal study based on this NASA NextSTEP-2 solicitation (Study Area #3 only).

Key Results for Objective #2: 

  • Create an outline of the effort and tools needed to complete a network topology analysis.
  • Identify and define the nature of each topology under analysis.
  • Identify data-driven metrics that can be used to evaluate relative performance/utility of each topology based on these metrics.

Member(s) responsible for OKR and their role:

Objective #3: Complete an internal study analyzing relative performance of several network topologies in the context of lunar operations.

Key Results for Objective #3: 

  • Create code models or simulations of each network topology.
  • Document the results of the models and simulations with data-driven metrics from Objective #1.
  • Discuss the results in the context of other lunar communication technologies and missions.
  • Identify areas of future research.

Member(s) responsible for OKR and their role:

Team Table (Table A)

Project teams may not need an initial team. It can just be an individual submitting a proposal. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep teams small and focused in the beginning, with clear deliverables and OKRs for each member. 

Team RocketeerPhilip Linden (@phil)
Initial Team[Philip Linden]( aka @philiplinden)
Pablo Moncada (@pmoncada)
Greg Search (@gregsearch aka @gregsearch)

Rod Mamin (@ionrod)
Multi Language Representative (optional)N/A
Multisig signersN/A
Revenue Split Agreement AddressN/A

Team Member: Philip Linden (@phil aka @philiplinden)

Bio: I’m a spacecraft engineer, writer, and all around space nerd. My core values are: Do Good, Be Collaborative, Dream Big, Strive for Openness, and Take Pride in Every Task. My professional experience includes R&D engineering for SpaceX (Mechanical/Reusability Engineering for Dragon Capsule), R&D engineering for Lockheed Martin Space (Electro-Optical engineer), Mission Operations for Planet Labs (Space Systems Engineer), and research for Open Lunar Foundation (Fellow).

Team Member: Rod Mamin (@ionrod @difint)

Bio: Rod Mamin is a systems engineer, with commercial experience building and sending robots for the Moon, Founder of LunCo.Space, Grantee on DeSci & OSS Gitcoin GR15, Alpha, Beta rounds, exSpace Engineering Guild Steward

Team Member: Pablo Moncada (@pmoncada)

Bio: Pablo is the founder of MoonDAO. Academic background in Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Business. Previously worked as a Software Engineer at YouTube (VR/TV), Waymo (ML Perception), Meta (Distributed Systems for Ads Infra), and research/startups in the biotech industry (Tissue Engineering, Bioreactors).

Team Member: Greg Search (@gregsearch)

Bio: Greg holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Aeronautical Engineering, and a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. He helped early research in the Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) program which became Skyborg. His research focuses mainly in aerospace, including: magnetic navigation, laser air data systems, and more. 

Estimated Project Timeline (Table B)

2023-08-07Begin collecting literature and tools.
2023-08-14Share the planned objectives, methods, and hypotheses with the MoonDAO community for review and feedback. Begin analysis.
2023-08-31Freeze scope of analysis. Note unexplored areas of research as potential future work.
2023-09-30Share summary of analysis so far. What has been done, what was learned, results if any.
2023-10-31Publish a manuscript, code, and data on DeSci discussing the analysis and results.

Deadline for the project: End of Q3

Budget Justifications (Table C)

Retroactive rewards only.

Total0 ETH

In-Depth Approval Senate Signature

This is only required if your project requires up-front funding from MoonDAO or it is going to crowd-raise with support from MoonDAO.

Senate Member Signature #1:: @pmoncada