The Vatican on Monday outlined a plan to send a miniaturised digital book into space containing a message of hope delivered by Pope Francis in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This “nano-book” will be launched into orbit at an altitude of 525 km by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will take off on 10 June from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Holy See announced at a press conference in Rome.
The micro-engraved piece of electronics, measuring just 2mm, will be carried on a 30cm rectangular satellite (a CubeSat) equipped with solar panels and designed by students at the Turin Polytechnic in Italy.
It will contain a speech given by Pope Francis on 27 March 2020 at the height of the pandemic. On that day, alone in a deserted, rain-swept St Peter’s Square, the head of the Catholic Church urged the “frightened and lost” world to rethink its priorities.
Named “Spei Satelles” (“satellite of hope”, in Latin), the project – the budget for which was not specified – is being carried out jointly by the Vatican, the Italian Space Agency and various Italian institutes.
The aim of the collaboration is to send this speech “beyond the earth’s borders to reach from space as many women and men as possible on our troubled planet,” explained the president of the Italian Space Agency, Giorgio Saccoccia.