Astronaut, André Kuipers, appeared on a Dutch radio show recently where he told the host about a time he tried to make a phone call from the International Space Station, but ended up accidentally calling the US emergency number, 911, Motherboard reports.
To make a call from the orbiting space station, you first have to dial 9, and then the number for an international line, 011. In this case, Kuipers forgot to punch in the 0, which triggered an alert at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Classic.
“The next day I received an email message: Did you call 911?” he said during the show, Met Het Oog Op Morgen.
Space calls are placed using a network of satellites to contact Earth. As well as the usual work-related space stuff, the line can also be used to speak with family and friends. Essentially, the system they use is kinda like a souped-up Skype, in that it works over an internet connection rather than traditional methods. It’s even used by astronauts to watch movies and read e-books.
It’s nowhere near as fast, though, suffering some pretty wild audio delays, with Kuipers saying at times, “people were hanging up because they thought I did not say anything”.
As Motherboard points out, he’s not the only one to misdial from space. Astronaut, Tim Peake tweeted about a similar incident back in 2015.
I’d like to apologise to the lady I just called by mistake saying ‘Hello, is this planet Earth?’ – not a prank call…just a wrong number!
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) December 24, 2015
It just goes to show that even the most intelligent among us are not immune from accidentally dialing a bung number every once in a while. As Mr. Burns once said, “I suspect you need more practice working your telephone machine.”