The Vatican has launched a message into space on Monday on board a "papal satellite" created by students at the Polytechnic University of Turin.
The CubeSat was launched into orbit on Monday from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The satellite contains a tiny nanobook with a message from Pope Francis, which can be picked up by radio enthusiasts around the world.
The message the Vatican chose to send to space is the Statio Orbis prayer, given by Pope Francis on March 27, 2020. In surreal scenes just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Italy and the world, the Pope delivered the prayer and "message of hope" to an empty St. Peter's Square. The Spei Satelles satellite contains a 2 x 2 x 0.2-millimeter (0.08 x 0.08 x 0.008-inch) silicon slab which also contains images from the speech.
The project, created in conjunction with the Italian Space Agency, is intended to be a message of hope.
"Pope Francis' message in Space is a sign and image of tenderness and blessing for the world," Monsignor Lucio Adriàn Ruiz, who initiated the Spei Satelles project, told Vatican News. "The immensity of space always makes us dream, and today we all need to dream together again, with the hope that peace, so desired by humanity, will return to the world by engaging all of us."
"I take this union and communion as a first great fruit and sign of hope. Working together to bring this sign of hope makes us greater friends with each other, brothers and sisters, 'Fratelli tutti' [all brothers and sisters]."
Two small computers on board the satellite along with two ultra-high frequency (UHF) communication systems will broadcast the message for people to hear back on Earth, assuming you have radio equipment.