Published May 1, 2001

Denise and Arthur Blessitt, with the cross that is headed for space.

CubeSat launch

An American who recently completed a personal mission of carrying a 40-pound cross around the world and made the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s longest trek, will next send a four inch version of the cross into space.

The cross is fashioned from the first cross he carried, which measured 12 feet by six feet, and will accompany a tiny Bible, to orbit the world.

When evangelist Arthur Blessitt, 60, returned from his most recent trek in March, across Cocos Island, the Coral Sea Islands and Tasmania, he created the smaller cross, soaked it in a preservative, and placed it in a transparent Plexiglas cube, called a CubeSat.

Mr. Blessitt, who began his country by country trek in 1969, has walked through 290 nations with the large redwood cross on his back over a period of 31 years. He has been arrested 24 times and said he has walked across all seven continents.

In his trip notes contained on his website, Mr. Blessitt said that over the years he has been turned away from half the churches where he requested a place for the cross overnight, but that the cross was never refused an overnight stay at a bar or a nightclub.

In November, the small replica of Mr. Blessitt’s larger cross will be one of nearly two dozen payloads launched into Earth orbit from Russia aboard a decommissioned SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile will blast off from Kazakhstan in November, 2001. It will be the first cross ever sent into orbit.

“CubeSats provide access to space for a mission at approximately $45,000, which is millions of dollars lower than anyone else,” Mr. Blessitt said in an interview with a U.S. writer. Few organizations will launch two-pound (four kilogram) satellites, he noted.

Bob Twiggs, director of Stanford University’s Space Systems Development Laboratory, invented the CubeSat as a way to help doctoral students take a satellite project from concept through launch in less than a year. “I needed to find a quick way to build a satellite and a way to launch them at a reasonable price,” he said.

Most CubeSats will orbit at low altitude and be taken out of space in a year or two to minimize orbiting junk, but Mr. Blessitt’s is set to go to 350 miles and stay up 150 years.


Woman bishops

(Church of England Newspaper)- The Church of England has appointed a working group to investigate the theology around the question of ordaining women as bishops. The group, chaired by Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, will make an interim report to the church’s General Synod next year. The Church of England ordained women as priests starting in 1994, but does not allow them to serve as bishops. Anglican churches in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand ordain female bishops.

Church aerials


(ENI)-England’s historic parish churches will soon be doing double duty as hosts for telecom antennae as phone companies set up third-generation mobile phone networks which allow for Internet access.

One-quarter of the Church of England’s 16,000 parishes have shown interest in hosting masts or aerials on church spires, in spite of reported safety fears over radiation risks. Some medieval cathedrals and churches already have antennae for second-generation mobile phone networks, but Rev. William Beaver, a spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council, said those number in the hundreds, rather than the thousands showing interest now.

The financial incentive is strong. Annual rental paid by telecom companies to churches hosting aerials can be up to $12,000. Local churches will make their own decision about aerials but the diocese will have the final say, said Mr. Beaver.


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