NASA image of the International Space Station

ISS astronaut accidentally dialed 911 from space

Contributed by
Jan 4, 2019

Kids, don’t abuse 911. It’s not a joke, and should only be used in real emergencies. Astronauts: same. That said, the emergency response time in this situation left a whole lot to be desired.

Yes, believe it or not, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, André Kuipers, once accidentally dialed 911. As you might imagine, this created a whole lot of worry for the folks at the Johnson Space Centre. Houston definitely thought they had a problem. 

The Dutch astronaut, who has since completed his mission (his second, for a total of 203 days in space) was apparently trying to dial “9” to make an outside call (presumably they’re all outside calls from space) and then attempting to hit “011” to place an international call (presumably they’re all international calls from space). Alas, he accidentally missed the zero, and ended up patching through to U.S. emergency services. 

Shortly thereafter, a security team was assembled at the Space Center room where the call was put through.   

Alas, Kuipers (shown above in a pic from his Instagram) had no idea he’d created such a stir till the following day. "The next day I received an email message: 'Did you call 911?'" he said, according to an interview timed to the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's moon landing with Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (via The Sun).

"I was a little disappointed that they had not come up," Kuipers then added, jokingly. 

Apparently, it’s not so difficult to phone home from the ISS either, as Kuipers noted that calls went through to Earth about 70 percent of the time, though long lag times were to be expected.

Just the same, emergency lines should be used strictly for emergencies – like alien invasions or the like.  


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