Pope Francis to call astronauts on the International Space Station

In this photo provided the European Space Agency on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli looks at the Multipurpose Transporting Plate aboard the International Space Station. Pope Francis is making his first phone call off the planet - and into space. On Thursday, Oct. 26 the pope will reach out to the six astronauts on the International Space Station. It will be only the second time a pope phones the heavens like this. Pope Benedict XVI called the space station in 2011. Nespoli was aboa In this photo provided the European Space Agency on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli looks at the Multipurpose Transporting Plate aboard the International Space Station. Pope Francis is making his first phone call off the planet - and into space. On Thursday, Oct. 26 the pope will reach out to the six astronauts on the International Space Station. It will be only the second time a pope phones the heavens like this. Pope Benedict XVI called the space station in 2011.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Pope Francis is making his first phone call off the planet — and into space.

On Thursday, the pope will reach out to the six astronauts on the International Space Station. It will be only the second time a pope phones the heavens like this. Pope Benedict XVI called the space station in 2011.

Advertisement

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli was aboard the orbiting lab for the first papal call, and he's back up there again, along with three Americans and two Russians.

"You look out the window and you can't help but feel that we're just one small part of a bigger whole." 

Francis is known for his out-of-the-blue calls. But this one has been in the Earth-to-space pipeline for a while. The European Space Agency made the arrangements, with NASA's technical support.

A large Roman Catholic contingent led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, will gather at Mission Control for the long-distance chat.

Fresh from the space station, U.S. astronaut Jack Fischer said his faith grew while he was in orbit. He invited his priest to his Houston homecoming last month, after landing in a Russian capsule on the other side of the world.

"You look out the window and you can't help but feel that we're just one small part of a bigger whole," Fischer said. "Just seeing this mind-blowing beauty of the universe, it grows your faith in ways that it's hard to even describe."

Since his launch in July, Nespoli has posted stunning photos of Italy on Twitter ; one of his latest scenery snapshots shows the Alps from 250 miles up.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Images: CNS/Composite: America
On Nov. 11, the Catholic Church lost a moral titan in the long struggle for racial equality and justice in the United States.
Shannen Dee WilliamsNovember 22, 2017
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar military commander-in-chief, speaks during the Union Peace Conference Aug. 31 in Naypyitaw (CNS photo/Hein Htet, EPA).
Gen. Min Aung Hlaing wields great political power in the country.
Jacob Tremblay and Julia Roberts in “Wonder” (CNS photo/Lionsgate). 
‘Wonder’ is a tween melodrama on a mission of mercy.
Simcha FisherNovember 22, 2017
The change was in “no way” a response to the C.C.H.D.’s persistent online critics, an archdiocesan official says.
Kevin ClarkeNovember 22, 2017