WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama made a long-distance call by radio link to the dozen members of the shuttle Discovery and International Space Station crews, NASA said.
"We are always inspired by the images of you guys at work as you work to put some of the final pieces in place to make the ISS fully operational," Obama told the crew members Thursday as the shuttle and ISS orbited 221 miles above the Earth at 5 miles a second.
"You are setting such a great example with your dedication, your courage, your commitment to exploration."
Obama asked about the R2 robot recently moved into the station.
"Are you guys making him do chores up there, washing the dishes or something or does he have more exciting jobs?" he inquired.
The astronauts said the robot was still in packing foam, not yet unpacked, ABC News reported.
"He's still in packing foam?" Obama said, feigning disappointment. "That's a shame, man. Come on guys, unpack the guy! He flew all that way and you guys aren't unpacking him?"
In his call the president also took the opportunity to congratulate everyone at NASA for making the space shuttle Discovery "a unique part of our history in space."
The astronauts said they calculated Discovery will have flown for 365 days over the course of 39 missions.
"That's a remarkable record," the president said.