Vatican Launches First Spei Satelles

16th Jun 2023
Vatican Launches First Spei Satelles

The Vatican has launched their new nanosatellite with the intent of broadcasting Pope Francis’s famous ‘Statio Orbis’ speech contained in a silicon nanobook. Students from the Polytechnic University of Turin collectively built the satellites with oversight from the Italian Space Agency and Terran Orbital subsidiary, Tyvak International. This is a first in the Vatican’s history, with the satellite – designated Spei Satelles or Satellites of Hope space mission – and was launched on 12th June from Vandenberg Air Force in California aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. 

The Vatican’s Spei Satelles Nanosatellites

The Vatican’s first nanosatellite launches aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: Vatican News

The Spei Satelles Mission will see the Vatican’s 3U CubeSat nanosatellite – which is the approximate size of a rugby ball – sit 525 km above Earth. The satellite took six months to build and according to a Terran Orbital press release: “[we have] advanced the Pope’s Spei Satelles space mission to transmit messages of hope.”

The satellite was a collaborative effort from the CubeSat and DIANA Robotics student team from the Polytechnic University of Turin, and will soon be placed in sun-synchronous orbit. Terran Orbital said the project involved several PoliTO alumni – experts in the development of nanosatellites – who assisted the next generation of space technology engineers.

Sabrina Corpino, a PoliTO professor and project manager for the Spei Satelles mission, said: “our students have been supported by incredible engineers, who shared their unique background on small satellites, making this experience a perfect example of a successful collaboration between industry and academia.”

Carrying The Pope’s Message Of Hope & Unity

Aboard the satellite is a 2×2 millimetre silicon slab nanobook, which was fabricated by the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnology at the National Research Council of Italy. The ‘silicon slab’ contains the Pope’s viral 27th March public prayer, where he addressed worshipers virtually at a crowdless St. Peter’s Basilica. A broadcast of the speech will be transmitted on the 70cm amateur band for six-months per year – due to battery limitations – and remain in orbit for 12 years. The nanobook also houses images and readings associated with the speech.

Fabio Nichele, CEO of Tyvak International, said: “It’s a huge honor for our company to be part of this historical and inspirational papal space mission. We’ve encouraged the passion and dedication of a new generation of space enthusiasts, while spreading a message of unity and hope.”

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