A routine phone call by Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers from the International Space Station set alarm bells ringing on Earth -- all because he skipped a digit and dialled 911 instead. Though he hung up immediately, an alert was set off at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston following which a security team was dispatched there.
“I made a mistake and the next day I received an email message: did you call 911?” said 60-year-old Kuipers, according to a report in Newsweek.
It's not the first time an astronaut has accidentally dialled 911. Just like users of terrestrial office phones, orbiting astronauts have to dial 9 for an outside line, followed by 011 for an international line. A lot of times astronauts skip the 0 and hence end up dialling the emergency number.
According to veteran astronaut Holly Ridings, astronauts in space use phones which operate like Skype. “Astronauts can call any phone in the world if they have the right satellite and it helps them stay connected with their families and their friends as well as the people they work with,” she said.
"I was a little disappointed that they had not come up," joked Kuipers who works with the European Space Agency and has completed two space missions totalling 203 days.