Peregrine lander. Courtesy of Astrobotic.

We could all use a little hope right now.

A new project from the brand-new Penn State Readiness Institute wants to collect our hopes and dreams — and send them to the moon. Literally.

The Readiness Institute is using Pittsburgh-based spacecraft company Astrobotic to launch the Hope Moonshot. Everyone is invited to write down their hopes, and submit them through an online form before Jan. 22.

Submissions will be saved on an SD card and placed in a storage capsule, and sent to the moon aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander in 2021 (along with 16 other commercial customers, including NASA).

Based in Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center in Uptown, the Penn State Readiness Institute started this project as a collaboration with a California nonprofit called Global Moonshots in Education. They, of course, don’t traffic in actual lunar travel — Moonshot is just a name connoting a type of high-risk, high-reward project. But there is a company in Pittsburgh that actually does go to the moon, Astrobotic, and just happens to be planning on doing it next year.

“If our hopes can make it to the moon, then our hopes can become true on Earth,” says Justin Aglio, senior director of the Penn State Readiness Institute.

“At the end of the day, we want to foster hope among people around the world. And that’s our main project, whether you’re a student, educator or a member of the global community.”

The Readiness Institute launched only several weeks ago, with a grant from The Heinz Endowments. It’s designed to serve as a learning lab for students and teachers, advancing a vision of a more just Pittsburgh by helping learners from diverse backgrounds develop the skills and values needed to succeed.

They are planning three major initiatives: to help high schoolers connect with industry and communities to work on real-world problems, help post-secondary learners pursue innovative future-readiness experiences and help educators with opportunities for professional development.

“In order for people to be ready, we believe that readiness starts with hope,” says Aglio.

There are two lesson plans created for the Hope Moonshot, one for kindergarten through fifth grade, and another for sixth through 12th grade.

“It gives the opportunity for students to self-reflect on 2020 and 2021, and their goals and dreams, and also then to share with each other their hopes, and then some time to submit their hopes online,” says Aglio.

The Peregrine lander. Rendering courtesy of Astrobotic.

A launch date has not been set yet, but it’s expected to take place in the second half of 2021.

“We are going to provide people with mission updates from Astrobotic,” says Aglio, who adds that they’re planning a launch party in late 2021 as well, whether it’s virtual or in-person.

This project isn’t intended just for Pittsburghers or Pennsylvanians.

“Our goal is to get everyone on Earth to submit their hopes,” says Aglio. “This Hope Moonshot started in Pittsburgh, at Penn State, but this is a global project.”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.