May 24, 2011. (Romereports.com)
Benedict XVI made history by being the first pope to make a phone call to space. He spoke to the astronauts at the International Space Station after the arrival of the space shuttle Endeavour.
The pope gave his blessing to the crew and asked about the health of astronaut Mark Kelly's wife, the U.S. congresswoman who was shot in the head last January and is still recovering.
During the 18 minute phone conversation, the pope asked Astronaut Kelly how he thought science could lead to more peace on Earth.
Kelly pointed out that most conflicts are based on the need for energy, and they could be solved by finding an energy source everyone could use. Mark E. Kelly (CAPTAIN, USN)
NASA Astronaut “The science and the technology that we put in the Space Station to develop a solar power capability, gives us pretty much an unlimited amount of energy. And if those technologies could be adapted more on Earth, we could possibly reduce some of that violence.”
Among the astronauts were two Italians, one of whom carried a silver medal given to him by the pope. The medal depicts Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man.”
Astronaut Roberto Vittori brought the medal with him on the shuttle Endeavour, and Paolo Nespoli will carry it back to Earth and present it to the pope. The pontiff also sent his regards to Nespoli, whose mother passed away while he was in space. Benedict XVI“How did you cope with this sorrowful time? Do you feel alone and cut off in your Space Station?”
Italian Astronaut“My colleagues here on the Station - Dimitri, Kelly, Ron, Alexander and Andrei - have been close to me in this important moment, it's been very intense, just like my brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and other relatives were close to my mother during her last moments.”
Benedict XVI expressed his admiration for the astronauts and their exploration into the unknown.Benedict XVI“You are our representatives, spear-heading humanity's exploration of new spaces and possibilities for our future, going beyond the limitations of our everyday existence.”
The space crew was made up of Americans, Russians, and Italians. The pope wished them all a safe journey home and laughed as he watched them play with the effects of zero gravity.