It’s apparently not that difficult to contact Earth from space. Dutch astronaut André Kuipers reveals he once accidentally called 911 from space while trying to get in touch with NASA.
Accidental 911 Call
In a radio program, Kuipers described how he had once accidentally dialed 911 while he was in orbit around the Earth. Evidently, he was trying to contact NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, but made the honest mistake of dialing 911, instead of dialing 9 to contact an outside line, and then 011 to contact an international line.
As a result, it set off a security alert in Houston, and staff had to check the room in the space station where the call came from. Furthermore, he also received an e-mail asking him if he actually intended to call 911.
Calls From Space
According to Kuipers, it’s actually not that difficult to contact friends on the Earth from space. In fact, they are able to make calls to Earth via satellites about 70 percent of the time. However, the calls might not run as smoothly as they would like because of significant time delays that make having proper conversations rather difficult.
He even says that people would sometimes hang up on him because they thought that he was not talking anymore. Because of it, he says he now developed the habit of talking as soon as he has finished dialing the last number.
It was in 1999 when André Kuipers joined the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Astronaut Corps in Cologne, Germany. Kuipers finished the training program in 2002, and he was soon assigned as a flight engineer for a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station.
Kuipers was also involved in various research in the agency, from studying Space Adaptation Syndrome to developing the Torque Velocity Dynamometer as well as the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System. The now 60-year-old has completed two space missions, spanning a total of 203 days in space.