Friday, May 20, 2011

Astronauts to talk with pope Saturday

The dozen astronauts and cosmonauts now in space will have an audience Saturday with Pope Benedict XVI.

The first papal call to the International Space Station is planned at 7:11 EDT.

The pope will speak in English during the 20-minute call from the Foconi Room of the Vatican Library, and also address Italian astronauts Roberto Vittori and Paulo Nespoli in Italian, according to a press release from the European Space Agency .

With the pope at 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 call will come hours after the six-person Endeavour crew might perform a closer inspection of a damaged orbiter heat shield tile, if requested by managers.

Before going to sleep at 1:30 p.m. EDT today, Endeavour pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists Mike Fincke and Vittori reviewed procedures for how they would operate the shuttle's robotic arm during the inspection.

NASA is expected to announce its decision on whether the inspection is needed around 4 p.m. today. Even if the inspection is ordered, LeRoy Cain, head of the mission management team, said Thursday that he didn't expect the tile to require repair.

Shuttle astronauts on Saturday will also prepare for the mission's second spacewallk on Sunday.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Webstream of the IFC can be accessed via or via