A Dutch Astronaut Caused a Panic at NASA After Accidentally Dialing '911'

Friday, 04 January 2019 - 11:59AM
Space
NASA
Friday, 04 January 2019 - 11:59AM
A Dutch Astronaut Caused a Panic at NASA After Accidentally Dialing '911'
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It's common knowledge that 911 call centers can usually track the location of a caller, but we're betting dispatchers would have been thrown for a loop when Dutch astronaut André Kuipers accidentally dialed the number from the International Space Station. Though no one picked up, the call inadvertently triggered a panic at NASA and an embarrassing email to Kuipers the next day.

Despite what you may think, calling someone from the ISS is actually pretty easy to pull off—astronauts just need to dial '9' for an outside line, then '011' for an international call. According to Kuipers, the call usually goes through about 70% of the time, though there's still some serious delay between speakers. "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," Kuipers said. Unfortunately, Kuipers forgot to dial the '0' when calling NASA's Johnson Space Center at one point during the mission, which left him with '911.'

The 911 call apparently triggered an emergency situation at the Center, with technicians checking the line that connected the ISS and Earth. Meanwhile, Kuipers remained oblivious to the fact that he'd triggered a panic back on Earth. The next day, Kuipers received an email asking if he called 911, and he told them he may have done so by accident. Though embarrassed by the slip-up, he joked "I was a little disappointed that [911] had not [picked] up." This isn't the first time an astronaut has misdialed while in space—in 2015, British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted "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!"

We're not sure which sounds more entertaining—prank calling Earthlings from a space station or telling your friends you picked up your phone and heard an astronaut yell "Wassap?!".
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