Pope Francis made a call to the International Space Station on Oct. 26 to speak to the crew members of Expedition 53. NASA TV broadcasted the webcast of the in-flight interview live.
The Second ‘Holy’ Call To Space
Alhough this is the first time that Pope Francis was on a call with astronauts on the ISS, it is not the first time that a “holy” call has taken place between a pope and space station crew members. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI placed a call to the orbiting lab and spoke to the crew members stationed onboard at that time.
Incidentally, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency was a part of the ISS Expedition during the 2011 call by the Pope. Nespoli is on his second mission to the space station right now, so this is the second time that he attended a call from the Vatican while on the ISS.
"This is actually an event that was set up by our colleagues at ESA and ASI," NASA spokesman Dan Huot said. "They did it the last time two Italians were onboard in 2011 — Paulo was there," he added.
Back in 2011, Pope Benedict asked crew members questions about life on the ISS and if they ever wondered how science could contribute to peace, and what perspective they had gained about Earth from space. He also asked whether being stationed in space had impacted the crew members’ view about the origin and destiny of the universe and humanity. The call was placed from the Vatican Library.
Pope Francis is also a champion of popular theories related to the Big Bang and evolution and has demonstrated his faith in science. The pope's 20-minute talk revolved around the biggest questions of life, which touched upon topics like the astronauts' opinion on love, what brings them joy, and how living in microgravity in space has impacted their view of the world.
The pope also added that astronomy makes mankind think about questions like where humans come from and where they are going, apart from thinking about the boundless horizons of the universe.
International Space Station Expedition 53
The Expedition 53 crew consists of three NASA astronauts — Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei, and Randy Bresnik; two RSA cosmonauts — Sergey Ryazanskiy and Alexander Misurkin; and Nespoli.
The International Space Station is an artificial satellite whose first component was launched into low Earth orbit in 1998. The ISS serves as a microgravity space research laboratory in which astronauts carry out experiments related to meteorology, astronomy, physics, human biology, biology, and other fields.