British astronaut apologizes for calling wrong number

British astronaut Tim Peake has apologized after calling the wrong number from the International Space Station on Christmas Eve.

And it's not the first time he's had trouble contacting family on the ground

British astronaut Tim Peake has had trouble connecting by phone with friends and family on Earth from the International Space Station. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo)

British astronaut Tim Peake has apologized for calling the wrong number from the International Space Station on Christmas Eve.

Peake jumped on to Twitter Thursday evening to tell a woman who answered his mistaken call that he hadn't been prank calling her from outer space. 

"Hello, is this planet Earth?" he said, before realizing that he had called the wrong person. 

Peake, 43, was launched into space on Dec. 15 to conduct experiments testing the toll space flight takes on the human body. 

He had been trying to contact his family since he arrived at the space station, according to USA Today, a seemingly simple act that has been surprisingly fraught for the first British astronaut to make the trip. 

He tried to call his parents sometime before Dec. 21, but missed them entirely. 

"We'd popped out for about an hour to see our daughter who lives nearby, came home to an answerphone message, 'Hello, this is your son from the International Space Station'" Nigel Peake, the astronaut's father, told the British daily The Telegraph. 

The most common response to his tweet? How do you call Earth from space?

Holly Ridings, NASA's deputy chief flight director, told Space Answers that astronauts functionally have a "Space Skype."

American astronaut Leland Melvin told BBC Newsday that in practice, it's usually simple: The astronaut waits for a decent network connection with Houston, clicks on the telephone numbers on their laptop and then hits call.

Getting a call from an astronaut can be a surprise, regardless of circumstance. Melvin said his own mother didn't quite believe him when he called from space. 

"When I first got to space, I called my mom, and she thought it was a prank call because she said,'Leland, where are you?'" he said in an interview with BBC Newsday. 

As for how Peake could better reach his parents, he offered that maybe he should just call their cellphones next time. 

At least he isn't the only one to make a bad call from outer space.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.