Astronauts Take Presidential Call
President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush speak to the joint STS-120 shuttle and Expedition 16 crews aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 1, 2007.
Credit: NASA TV.

HOUSTON - Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) received a special phone call today from former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.

Shaking hands before they sat down in the space shuttle flight director's chair, the presidential couple picked up telephones to shoot the vacuum with space station and shuttle Discovery crews.

"Bush is here, and she brought here husband," said Mike Antonelli, spacecraft communicator here at Johnson Space Center (JSC), before STS-120 commander Pamela Melroy and ISS commander Peggy Whitson exchanged greetings with the Bushes.

"We're really happy to have you here with us," Whitson said as mission controllers and their special visitors listened on.

"Good luck to you," former President Bush said to the astronauts, who are gearing up to repair a ripped solar array on Saturday. "We're so very proud of what y'all are doing. Barbara and I are just thrilled to be here."

"Thank you Mr. President and Mrs. Bush. We are absolutely thrilled and honored to speaking with you," Melroy said. "We just want to thank you for your support of the space program. This is the visible evidence of it," she said, referring to the new Harmony module she and her fellow astronauts floated in during the special visit.

"God bless you all," said former First Lady Bush.

"And God bless you as well," Melroy responded.

"Back to work, back to work all you guys! Don't just be sitting around having fun!" President Bush said to the astronauts before signing off. "We're so proud of you all. Very, very proud."

Before the former President and First Lady left, flight controllers tacked an STS-120 pin and Expedition 16 pin to the former president's collar. Staff in the room also showed Bush the cuff-link-like repair devices that spacewalkers will use to button up a ripped solar array on Saturday.