Pope to place call to space station

May 20, 2011 at 7:16 PM
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PARIS, May 20 (UPI) -- The astronauts about the International Space Station will take a break from their scientific duties for a video call from the pope, the Vatican says.

Pope Benedict XVI will make the first-ever papal call to the space station Saturday. European Space Agency astronauts Roberto Vittori and Paolo Nespoli and their colleagues will talk for 20 minutes with the pontiff, who will be in the Foconi Room of the Vatican Library, a release from ESA headquarters in Paris said Friday.

The leader of the world's Catholics will talk with the crew in English and also address ESA's two Italian astronauts in Italian.

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 of the Italian air force.

The call, to take place 3:11 p.m. EDT Saturday, will be broadcast by ESA TV and streamed live on the Internet at television.esa.int, the agency said.

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