Tag Hartman-Simkins
Operator Please

An Astronaut Accidentally Dialed 911 in Space

byVictor Tangermann
1. 2. 19
Tag Hartman-Simkins

Even astronauts get the wrong number sometimes.

Space Butt-Dial

We’ve all been butt-dialed. But have you ever considered what would happen if you punched in the wrong number while orbiting around Earth? Houston, we’ve got a problem.

In a new radio interview with Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, Netherlands astronaut André Kuipers recalled how he accidentally ended up calling American emergency services while on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Intergalactic Operator Please

Kuipers explained that phone calls from the ISS are routed through NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

“If you’re in space, it’s like you’re making a call via Houston, first you dial the 9 for an outside line, and then 011 for an international line,” Kuipers tells NOS, according to Google Translate. “I made a mistake. The next day I received an email message: did you call 911?”


Expect Delays

While there’s a longer-than-usual delay of data transfer from Earth to the ISS, long-distance phone calls are readily available to crew members, NASA Flight Director Holly Ridings told Space Answers in a 2013 interview. Thanks to the immense distance the signal has to travel from Earth via a relay satellite and then to the ISS, there’s a bit of a delay — but usually still less than a second.

But if there were a real emergency on the space station, the astronauts would have to deal with it themselves. Emergency services on Earth are way too far away.

READ MORE: Astronaut accidentally calls 911 from space [Newsweek]

More on living on board the ISS: A Day on — The ISS Edition


As a Futurism reader, we invite you join the Singularity Global Community, our parent company’s forum to discuss futuristic science & technology with like-minded people from all over the world. It’s free to join, sign up now!

Share This Article

Copyright ©, Singularity Education Group All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.