Papal call to the Space Station
2011-05-20 0:00


Backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere, the International Space Station is seen from Space Shuttle Discovery as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation. Earlier the STS-119 and Expedition 18 crews concluded 9 days, 20 hours and 10 minutes of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 20:53 CET on 25 March 2009.

His Holiness the Pope will talk with the astronauts aboard the International Space Station from the Vatican Library on Saturday, 21 May (on "Judgement Day"?). The inflight call will take place at 13:11 CEST (11:11 GMT).

The 12 astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been busy since Space Shuttle Endeavour arrived at the orbital complex last Wednesday. They installed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on Thursday for investigating ‘dark matter’ and antimatter, and performed the first spacewalk of the mission on Friday.

On Saturday the astronauts will take a short break for a unique event: a video call with His Holiness Benedict XVI. This will be the first papal call to the Space Station.

ESA astronauts Roberto Vittori and Paolo Nespoli and their colleagues will talk for 20 minutes with His Holiness, who will be in the Foconi Room of the Vatican Library.

Present at the event in the Vatican will be Thomas Reiter, ESA Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations, Enrico Saggese, President of the Italian Space Agency, and General Giuseppe Bernardis, Italian Air Force. The event will be broadcast live.

His Holiness will talk with the crew in English and also address ESA’s two Italian astronauts in Italian.

The media are invited to follow in person the event from the Vatican Television Centre Room Giovanni Paolo II. After the event, journalists will have an opportunity to meet the ESA, ASI and Italian Air Force participants. For accreditation, contact:


The event will be broadcast by ESA TV and webstreamed at :

- Broadcasters can find the satellite broadcasting parameters at the ESA TV website:

- Internet media can embed ESA’s online web stream or link to the video player, by going to:

- The video will be available for download at ESA's archive on Monday, 23 May:

- Updates on the event will be posted at:


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