Each of the 1,038 nanosatellites that launched from the Satish Dhawan space port in India was hardly larger than a milk carton, but these small, inexpensive spacecraft, originally designed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, were the hope of mankind.
Avi Salomon and Havah Tobias stood in Mission Control and watched the monitors as the nanosats reached their initial orbits. The “father” of the project, Professor Dan Blumberg, received a remote feed at Ben-Gurion in Beer-Sheva.
“It’s looking very good, Professor.” Tobias spoke into her microphone. “I think we will be successful.”
“I hope so, Havah.” Professor Blumberg’s tired voice echoed in her headset. “The whole Earth is holding its breath and praying that we can save them.” Avi took Havah’s hand. They had been engaged for over a year but decided not to marry until after the launch. Win or lose, they’d marry next month, and if the project failed, they hoped to have enough time for the honeymoon before they started getting sick.
“All our hopes and dreams ride on those thousand plus nanosats, my love.” Avi squeezed Havah’s hand and she squeezed back. They both looked at the monitors as the miniature spacecraft continued in their orbits toward their deploy positions.
The small size of the nanobots made them cheap to manufacture and more disposable than their conventional counterparts, creating a larger arena for adaptive use.
Flight Director Mohammed Amin walked over to the couple. “They should all reach their target positions in about ten minutes. If this works, if you can save us, everyone on this planet will be eternally grateful to Israeli innovation and generosity. You could have as easily have kept the cure to yourselves.”
“That’s not who we are as Israelis and as Jews, Mr. Amin. I think you’ve learned that from us by now.”
“Indeed, my friends. Indeed.” Amin patted each of the scientists on their shoulders. “I must be getting back to my post.”
True to Amin’s word, exactly ten minutes later, all 1,038 of the nanosats reached their optimal positions and then descended back into Earth’s atmosphere. As they descended, they began releasing their gaseous payloads, which would be carried to the entire surface of the planet. Within weeks, everyone would know if the human race would survive.
The disease had escaped from an old Soviet biological research storage facility nearly a year ago. In that time, nearly a quarter of the world’s population had perished, and tens of millions more were gravely ill.
Professor Blumberg was the foremost authority on infectious diseases on the planet and had miraculously developed a cure. Avi had been the chief designer of the nanosats, and Havah was the engineer whose team built these small delivery systems.
As the cure was being disseminated into the atmosphere, cheers roared up from the space flight engineers and technicians. This was going to work. It had to work.
A month later, Avi and Havah were married under a chupah in a small synagogue just outside of Jerusalem. The following year, their first son Asher was born.
I got the idea for this story from an article called Israel’s First Academic Nanosatellite to be Launched on Wednesday, published at JPost.com.
Although the real-life purposes of these nanosats (and in the article, only 103 will take flight) is radically different from what I’ve suggested above, I thought my innovation was a tad more dramatic. I also wanted to write an optimistic tale at least hinting how the people and nations of the world could unite in the face of a global crisis.
The image above is a photo of Israel as seen from space.
The name “Asher” means “beloved” or “fortunate.”