- Stephane Corvaja/ESA via Getty Images
- Dutch astronaut André Kuipers accidentally called 911 from the International Space Station.
- He said he was trying to contact NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and had to dial 9 for an outside line, then 011 for to contact an international line.
- But he missed the zero, and instead called 911, setting off a security alert at the Johnson Space Center center.
A Dutch astronaut accidentally called 911 from space while orbiting Earth on the International Space Station (ISS).
André Kuipers told the Netherlands’ public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting that he called US emergency services after dialing the wrong number while trying to contact NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“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,” the 60-year-old astronaut and physician said, according to a translation from the science and technology website Futurism.
But Kuipers missed the zero, and ended up calling 911 instead of 9011.
His misdial set off a security alert at the Johnson Space Center center, with staff wondering if everything was OK.
Kuipers, who has competed two space missions totaling more than 200 days, said that the next day he received an email from Houston, asking if he had called 911.
“I was a little disappointed that they had not come up,” he joked.
Kuipers said it’s surprisingly easy to contact Earth from space, and that astronauts can use terrestrial phones via satellites about 70% of the time.
He did say, however, there is often a time delay that makes it difficult to hold conversations with people on Earth.
“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,” he recalled.
This isn’t the first time an astronaut has dialed the wrong number from ISS.
In 2015, Britain’s first astronaut, Tim Peak, clarified that he hadn’t prank called a woman when he called from space and said “Hello, is this planet Earth?” He’d actually just dialed the wrong number.
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