Astronaut sparks panic after accidentally dialing 911 from space sending NASA into a frenzy


Astronaut sparks panic after accidentally dialing 911 from space sending NASA into a frenzy

Published 8 mins ago 0821 C time Friday January 04, 2019

An astronaut has told how he accidentally rang 911 from space - sending security teams at NASA's Houston base into a frenzy.

André Kuipers missed out a number when making a call through HQ back on Earth - and ended up connecting to US emergency services.

The astronomical blunder sparked panic at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas and a security team was scrambled to the room where the call was put through.

He had been orbiting Earth in the International Space Station when he tried to make the call.

The 60-year-old spaceman explained how he had pressed 9 to make an outside call.

He then tried to phone internationally by pressing 011 - but mistakenly left out the zero.

Oblivious to the chaos he caused, the Dutchman said he only realized his error when he received an email the following day.

Speaking in an interview about the cock-up, he told Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting: "I made a mistake.

"The next day I received an email message: 'Did you call 911?'"

Kuipers joked: "I was a little disappointed that they had not come up."

The astronaut - who completed two space missions totaling 203 days - also told how it is surprisingly easy to communicate with earth while on board the ISS.

He said that calls worked 70 percent of the time - but that huge time delays were a struggle.

Kuipers recalled: "Sometimes people would hang up because they thought I did not say anything, so later on I started to talk as soon as I had dialed the last number."

The starman was interviewed to mark 50 years since Neil Armstrong's moon landing.

In 2015, British astronaut Tim Peake Tweeted about calling a wrong number from the ISS.

He wrote: "I'd like to apologize to the lady I just called by mistake saying 'Hello, is this planet Earth?' - not a prank call...just a wrong number!"

Has anyone noticed that in recent versions of IOS there are two slide bars when you power the device off? One says to slide the bar right to power off and the other says to slide the bar to the right to dial 911 Am I the only one here that has accidentally dialed 911 when shutting off my I[phone?
That's like the Apollo computer.  The programmer said code was needed to prevent accidental use of certain modes.  Management said the pilots were pros and wouldn't make that sort of mistake.  Until they did, on the return flight from the moon. 

Having done stints at different times that touched on PBX programming, I've often raised concerns about how poorly the systems that use 'dial-9 for an outside line' could lead to mistakes like that.  

You'd think, however, that they wouldn't have 911 as even part of the dial plan.  No doubt someone said "we should prevent this" but management overruled it because it couldn't possibly go wrong...
Huh!  Wikipedia says that "911" was chosen because it was an unassigned area code at the time the emergency telephone number system was being set up in North America.  They considered the British "999" but it was "not practical", for whatever reasons.  Note also that significant parts of the world use "112".
The first area codes were picked based on their popularity, with area codes from big cities having smaller numbers and lesser used codes having higher numbers. This was because with a dial phone, the 9 took longer to dial than a 1. Like NYC started with the 212 area code, Los Angeles was 213.
Of course then it ran afoul of locks placed on rotary dials to prevent spinning it far enough to hit the 9.

And all sorts of shenanigans went on with people paying premiums for 212 and 213 area codes.

My eye twitched a bit recently when I got a phone for my boy.  number was 301-215-xxxx  wait, what, the Philly area code?  I may have them change it, not because anyone cares but just because it offends the HOURS spent wrangling with dial plans on devices...
It used to be possible to dial a number by taping the switch at the correct rate (tap x times, pause, tap ... ). It still may get you an operator but not on your cell phone ;-) .