SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was launched Wednesday as the first privately-funded payload to escape Earth’s gravity. The mission’s main payload was a Tesla Roadster that is expected to orbit the sun.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 22, 2017
Inside the Roadster, an additional piece of payload is also now in orbit: the world’s smallest time capsule. The Falcon Heavy is carrying the Solar Library, a one-inch data crystal called the Arch that can preserve vast amounts of human information.
The Arch is expected to withstand extreme environments and last billions of years. It is the work of the Arch Mission Foundation, which exists to “help humanity preserve and spread its knowledge across vast distances of time and space.”
The AMF expects to launch a Lunar Library by 2020 and a Mars Library by 2030. The Mars Library is to be a “backup of Earth” … you know, just in case an “extinction-level event” occurs on Earth. But the Foundation also believes the storage and transmittal of big data sets like the Arch are vital to our transition to a spacefaring civilization.
Asimov Inspires The Idea
The inspiration for the Arch comes from Isaac Asimov’s science fiction series Foundation and it’s idea of an Encyclopedia Galactica. Hari Seldon, a mathematician and the book’s protagonist, is arrested for his belief that the Galactic Empire will be destroyed in 500 years.
While Seldon cannot prevent the Empire from collapsing, he argues that his Encyclopedia will limit the dark age that follows. He is exiled to a faraway land and is instructed to start his Encyclopedia. Appropriately, the Foundation Trilogy was included in the first Arch.
Central to their mission, the Foundation believes that Earth is due for another “naturally occurring extinction-level event.” And while they cannot prevent the collapse of Earth, Foundation members believe they can preserve our culture and history – much like Hari Seldon. Nothing gets a SciFi nerd as excited as the stories of his childhood coming to life. For the AMF crowd, the first Falcon Heavy launch was a dream come true.