A satellite created with the help of Terran Orbital Corporation’s (NYSE: LLAP) Italian subsidiary, Tyvak International, was successfully launched on June 12th from Vandenberg SFB as part of the SpaceX Transporter-8 mission, carrying Pope Francis’s iconic “Statis Orbis” coronavirus pandemic prayer heavenward.
The Polytechnic University of Turin (PoliTO) CubeSat Team and DIANA Robotics Team designed the 3U CubeSat spacecraft for the papal Spei Satelles, or Satellites of Hope, space mission.
A technical team from Tyvak International, Terran Orbital’s Turin, Italy, subsidiary, supervised and supported the students’ six-month project to develop the satellite, which will operate from LEO. The Project has been promoted by the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See in unity with the Pope, together with the Italian Space Agency.
Spei Satelles contains a nanobook, a 2-millimeter by 2-millimeter, 0.2-millimeter-thick silicon slab fabricated by the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnology of the National Research Council of Italy. The book contains images and readings associated with Pope Francis’s famous March 27, 2020, public prayer. That March night, a solemn, solitary Pope Francis slowly ascended the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica in the rain before hoisting a cross above his head beneath a white canopy.
He encouraged the world to stay strong with a prayer delivered before an empty square that typically draws tens of thousands of people for papal speeches. In the viral speech, the pope called for humanity to unite to fight the pandemic with “the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.”
Now, the Spei Satelles mission will transmit Pope Francis’s messages of hope and unity in 437.5 MHz, a UHF amateur satellite band, during the satellite’s stay in sun-synchronous orbit 525 kilometers above Earth. Tyvak International includes several PoliTO alumni, who learned how to design, launch and operate nanosatellites in the same CubeSat Team Lab where they recently worked closely with the next generation of spacecraft engineers.
“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.”
— Fabio Nichele, CEO of Tyvak International
“We are grateful to the Tyvak International team for their invaluable contribution to the development of Spei Satelles. 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.”
— Sabrina Corpino, a PoliTO professor and project manager for the Spei Satelles mission