On Monday, a satellite carrying Pope Francis’ words was successfully launched into space as part of the “Spei Satelles” mission, meaning “Satellites of Hope.” The CubeSat, a miniature satellite, was launched from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
Newsroom(13/06/2023 20:30, Gaudium Press) The satellite, built by students from the Polytechnic University of Turin, is now en route to a heliosynchronous orbit approximately 525 km above the Earth’s surface. The students, led by Sabrina Corpino, expressed their excitement as their hard work reached space and contributed to a real space mission.
The CubeSat contains a copy of a book documenting Pope Francis’ urbi et orbi blessing on March 27, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pope blessed the world from St. Peter’s Square with a message of hope and prayed for the health and comfort of all of humanity. The book, titled “Why Are You Afraid? Have You No Faith? The World Facing the Pandemic,” has been converted into a nano book, a tiny silicon plate measuring 2mm by 2mm by 0.2mm, for transportation to space.
Pope Francis blessed the satellite and the nano book after his weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square on March 29. The CubeSat is hosted on the ION SCV-011ION platform, developed by the Italian company D-Orbit, and operated by the Italian Space Agency. Equipped with a radio transmitter and manoeuvrable instruments which can be controlled from the ground. the satellite will broadcast decipherable statements from Pope Francis in English, Italian, and Spanish on the theme of hope and peace.
Giorgio Saccoccia, the president of the Italian Space Agency, explained that the Holy See sought a way for the Pope’s words of hope to transcend borders and reach as many people as possible on our troubled planet. By launching Pope Francis’ message into space, the Vatican aims to emphasize that his prayer, blessing, and call for hope remain relevant for people of goodwill today.
Father Lucio Adrian Ruiz, the secretary of the Dicastery for Communication, noted that space holds a universal fascination, particularly for young people, evoking dreams of the magnificent and mysterious. The Vatican’s initiative seeks to harness this fascination and symbolize the enduring relevance of the Pope’s message in our world.
- Raju Hasmukh with files from CNA