It is not every day when you hear that someone from space called 911! But was it an emergency, and if yes, why call 911 and not the Johnson Space Center?
There is only one correct answer: it was an honest mistake.
André Kuipers, the Dutch astronaut, called 911 by accident. He was orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station (ISS) when he tried to contact the Johnson Space Center. However, the astronaut’s mistake made everyone at the center panic when they heard that Kuipers called 911.
How did he dial 911 instead of the numbers for the center?
That’s even easier to explain. The 60-year-old astronaut and physician’s statemed in an interview with the website Futurism:
“If you’re in space, and you’re making a call via Houston, first you dial the 9 for an outside line, and then 011 for an international line.”
Kuipers missed that zero and called 911 instead of 9011.
The Dutch astronaut has been in two space missions for over 200 days but didn’t think that his mistake would cause so much panic or chaos. He realized he made a mistake only the day after when he got an e-mail:
“The next day I received an email message: ‘Did you call 911?'”
He then joked that he was “a little disappointed that they had not come up.”
Then, in the interview, he also explained that calling Earth from space is very easy and that astronauts can use the phones via satellites in about 70% of the time.
But he also said that most of the time there is a delay, which makes talking with people on Earth a little difficult:
“Sometimes people would hang up because they thought I did not say anything, so later on I started to talk as soon as I had dialed the last number.”
Back in 2015, Tim Peak, the first British astronaut also mentioned that he called from space and misdialed. The woman on the phone thought it was a prank when he said: “Hello, is this planet Earth?”
In a Tweet, Peake added:
“I’d like to apologize to the lady I just called by mistake saying ‘Hello, is this planet Earth?’ — not a prank call… just a wrong number!”
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.