The Arch on board is a data crystal (sort of like a Jedi Holocron if you’re mad for Star Wars lore) that contains all three books from Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation trilogy. It’s actually a modest amount of data relative to the possibilities of the storage medium – in this case, a quartz silica structure which, using 5D optical storage techniques, can eventually achieve a max storage capacity of 360 terabytes on a disk just 3.75 inches in diameter.
The Arch Mission was actually inspired by Asimov’s Foundation series, which envisions an “Encyclopedia Galactica” that contains all the knowledge ever gathered by a civilization that has grown to galaxy-spanning scale. Spivack, along with co-founder Nick Slavin and a team that includes a number of council members from a wide range of background and industries, want to make this theoretical vision a functional reality – and the Arch SpaceX sent to space is the first, tiny piece of the puzzle.
Spivack explains that the Arch Mission isn’t about any one specific piece or even category of technology: The goal is essentially to build the largest, most resilient and most complete offsite backup ever created – an offsite backup of all human knowledge, spread across space in a variety of formats and mediums, with ample redundancy and hopefully multiple means of access.