Ever notice how science fiction writers who want to portray a religious figure in space tend to pick Jesuits? The most famous instance is Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow; but others include James Blish’s A Case of Conscience and Arthur C. Clarke’s The Star.
My first encounter with Jesuits in space was Dan Simmons’s Hyperion. Fr. Paul Duré SJ (though the abbreviation does not appear in the book), a follower of Teilhard de Chardin SJ (historical Jesuit), sets up an ethnological research station on the planet Hyperion when he encounters an alien race called the Bikura. I won’t give too much away, but the Bikura challenge Fr. Duré’s faith in a way you won’t be expecting!
Back to real life, I will be travelling tomorrow with a group of students from the Jesuit college in Limerick to the rocket range in Andøya, Norway as the Irish contingent for Cansat, a European Space Agency competition. The aim of the competition is to design and build a fully functional satellite prototype that fits inside a Coke can. The Cansats will be launched up to a height of 1km, and teams will be judged on technical merit and presentation skills.
Check out the students’ blog here.