SpaceX has just successfully launched its new Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, and just before launch, the company revealed on its live stream that inside the rather unique cargo of a Tesla Roadster, the company had placed an “Arch” storage system containing Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series.
An Arch is a “5D, laser optical quartz storage device” that is meant to be able to survive even in the harsh conditions of space, built by the Arch Mission Foundation. The foundation’s goal is to preserve libraries of human knowledge for interstellar travel (and to protect information in the event of calamity to Earth itself). It’s a goal that the group says was inspired by Asimov’s novels, which see mankind working to write an “Encyclopedia Galactica” to protect mankind against a coming dark age.
That goal also is very much in line with SpaceX’s plans to (eventually) travel to Mars. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has put sci-fi references into SpaceX projects before — the company has named its drone landing pad ships “Just Read the Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You,” after the names of ships in Iain M. Banks’ Culture series. The company’s iconic Falcon rockets are purportedly named after Star Wars’ famed Millennium Falcon.
The fact that the Foundation series is about a single man who predicts the future of mankind, establishes a long-term plan for the progress of human civilization, and is viewed as a legendary savior for the entire course of human history as a result of that surely isn’t a metaphor for anything here.