They take off with an unedited one space mission the words of the message of hope to all humanity that Pope francesco pronounced during the lockdown of March 2020, with the World Station in St. Peter’s Square. Satellites of Hope is “unique” in the history of space exploration and in the life of the Catholic Church and the mission will take off on June 10, from the Vandenberg space base, in California, with a Space X Falcon 9. On board the small satellite there is a silicon nanobook that carries the message of that prayer that has become an icon of hope that continues its journey and that continues to call the inhabitants of the planet to action. To signify this common commitment, walking together with the Pope, anyone who wants to can participate in the journey of “Spei Satelles” and be the bearer of hope and peace by registering their name on the site www.speisatelles.org. Furthermore, at the end of the next General Audience, Wednesday 29 March, the Pope will bless the satellite and the nanobook before its transfer for the last technical checks before launch. The mission is a joint initiative of the Italian Space Agency, the National Research Council and the Dicastery for Communication who presented Spei Satelles in Rome, in the Marconi Hall of Palazzo Pio XI, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Statio Orbis and on the tenth of the pontificate of Pope Francis. “Why go to space? Because space has a fascination for everyone, especially for young people, because space represents the universal mystery” and “sending a nano-book into space orbit means rewriting the message it contains” said Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, Secretary of the Dicastery for Communications, presenting the special space mission. “Unfortunately – observed Monsignor Ruiz – Covid is not the only storm that affects humanity, today the world is suffering from this ‘piecemeal third world war’ which covers all of humanity with drama. But still, each of us, in one’s life, in one’s history, one experiences that ‘storm’ that can make one lose hope. For this reason, the journey of hope is always present, it is always necessary, it is always done for each of us. We all need to hear that call from the Lord: ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?'”. that universal appeal, continue today to make themselves present for all men of good will and to ask to participate as builders of peace and hope” underlined Monsignor Ruiz again.
It was precisely March 27, 2020 when Pope Francis, on a dark evening, completely alone, went up to the churchyard of an unusually deserted St. Peter’s Square wet with heavy rain. Pope Francis prayed to restore hope to a world disoriented by the pandemic. And the power of the images and the words of the Holy Father marked the world. Three years after the historic images of the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square, in full lookdown, they become a message of hope for humanity which, with this unprecedented mission, takes off towards space to reach and involve more and more people. Starting from that March 27, 2020, various initiatives were born so that this event would not be forgotten but rather would maintain its driving force to go not only beyond the pandemic, to make us stronger and full of hope in every moment of difficulty, remembering that no one it saves itself. In 2021, one year after that event, the Statio Orbis with the words, images and meditations, even from the following days, became a publication which in 2022 was deposited with the world seed bank, in the Svalbard Seed Vault, as a ‘seed of hope’. In 2023, that seed of hope will fly into space in completely unusual, technologically very advanced and culturally unprecedented ways to further spread its universal message, giving rise to various related initiatives.
The Spei Satelles mission project, coordinated by the Secretary of the Dicastery Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz, involved the National Research Council, the Italian Space Agency, the Turin Polytechnic, the Instituto para el Diálogo Global y la Cultura del Encuentro – Idgce, the Salesian University Institute of Venice – IusveE and the Digital Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Turin. The Pope’s book, “Why are you afraid? You still have no faith” thus carries the message of the Statio Orbis into orbit, and has become, thanks to the National Research Council and in particular to the activity of the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnology coordinated by Andrea Notargiacomo, a ‘nanobook’, a silicon slab, 2x2x0.2 mm, in which the highly miniaturized book was engraved by means of micro and nanofabrication technologies.
“The Holy See has asked the Italian Space Agency to help it identify and implement, thanks to space technology, a solution that would allow the Holy Father’s words of hope to go beyond terrestrial borders and reach as many women as possible from space and men on our struggling planet” said the president of ASI, Giorgio Saccoccia, speaking at the presentation of the Spei Satelles space mission. The Magnificent Rector of the Turin Polytechnic, Guido Saracco, a university that has likewise spent a lot of money on Spei Satelles, noted that the young people of the Polytechnic in this mission “were able to measure themselves against a technical and scientific challenge that was not easy in a framework of values that represents a decisive human and cultural challenge”. The President of the Cnr, Maria Chiara Carrozza, pointed out that “today the science of the infinitely small presents us with enormous progress: the ability to miniaturise our knowledge by making it travel through time and space”.
To place this micro-manufactured into orbit as a sign and prophecy of hope, the Italian Space Agency and the Turin Polytechnic then worked in close synergy. The young people of the University of Turin, led by Professor Sabrina Corpino, designed and built in record time a 3U SpeiSat CubeSat that could house and keep the nanobook. The Italian Space Agency led by Giorgio Saccoccia has made it possible to launch it and put it into low Earth orbit (Low Earth Orbit-Leo) at an altitude of about 525 km. The CubeSat will travel aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage rocket and will be hosted on the Ion Scv-011Ion platform, the satellite carrier developed, built and managed by the Italian company D-Orbit, which performs launch and release into orbit. In addition to the on-board instrumentation to operate and be guided from the ground, the satellite is also equipped with a radio transmitter. For the time spent in orbit, when the satellite flies over that portion of the Earth, and easily codified in text mode, phrases taken from the Pontifical Magisterium that have the theme of hope and peace will be readable. The messages are in Italian, English and Spanish.
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Turin, Monsignor Roberto Repole, underlined that “we all need hope, especially young people. Safeguarding hope is the mission of this satellite designed and built by young people, told in the logo mission by young people, inhabited , we hope, by many young people who will want to get on board with the Pope through the site, thus committing themselves to sowing hope and fraternity where they live”. The mission is also designed to activate those who get involved. Through the site www.speisatelles.org it is not only possible to follow the evolution of the mission, but also to write one’s name on a chip that Spei Satelles will keep in orbit. To obtain a virtual boarding pass, you will be asked to commit yourself to doing a work of mercy in favor of peace and hope. Thus each one can become a seed of concrete hope in his or her life environment.
The Director of Iusve, Don Nicola Giacopini, commented: “We are grateful and almost incredulous to have been so closely involved in this experience that unites earth and sky. Our young students and graduates in Communication were able to try their hand at developing the logo and in the narration of the Spei Satelles mission. The logo of the space mission also recalls all these aspects and was created as part of an educational project by the students of the Salesian University Institute of Venice Iusve led by Marco Sanavio”. “The logo – he explained – first of all recalls the initials of Spei Satelles, the Keeper of Hope in Latin. The two letters ‘S’, arranged in a mirror image, indicate the complementarity of ‘earth’ (the lower semicircle) and ‘sky ‘ (the upper semicircle), as well as marking the orbit of the satellite around our planet. The technical and sense elements, technology and narration have been coordinated and kept together thanks to the work of the Digital Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Turin led by Don Luca Peyron.