In collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication is preparing to send Pope Francis’ message of hope and peace into space on the “Guardian of Hope” satellite, also known as Spei Satelles.
The satellite will carry a recording of the Pope’s Statio Orbis from March 27, 2020, which occurred amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The SpeiSat 3U CubeSat is scheduled to be launched on June 10, 2023, from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, reaching a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at an altitude of 525km.
About the size of an American football, the satellite will house a “nanobook” edition of Pope Francis’ work “Why Are You Afraid? Have You No Faith?”, featuring images and passages from the Statio Orbis. This nanobook, developed by the Polytechnic University of Turin, is as small as a pen tip and requires advanced nanotechnology reading devices to be read.
Nonetheless, those with an amateur UHF-band radio can listen to excerpts from the Pope’s book, transmitted by the satellite on 437.5 MHz as it circles the planet.
This initiative also invites individuals to engage with and embody the message of hope found in the Gospel. By visiting www.speisatelles.org, people can monitor the mission’s progress and have their names inscribed on a memory chip aboard the SpeiSat. To receive a virtual boarding pass, participants must pledge to carry out a work of mercy in the name of peace and hope.
While the satellite has the potential to remain in orbit for up to 12 years, its radio transmitter will only broadcast for 6 months to a year, limited by battery life.
A press conference presenting the initiative took place at Vatican News – Vatican Radio on Monday, marking three years since the impactful papal prayer in St. Peter’s Square. Fr. Luca Peyron, head of the Digital Apostolate of Turin, highlighted that the SpeiSat disseminates a prophetic message of hope through the marvels of modern technology.
Pope Francis will bless the satellite, set to launch his words into space on June 10, as well as the nanobook, following his weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square on March 29.