Vatican Calling: Pope Francis Will Speak with Space Station Astronauts on Thursday

Pope Francis calls the ISS
Pope Francis will call the International Space Station to speak with Expedition 53 astronauts on Oct. 26. (Image credit: Filippo Monteforte /AFP/Getty)

Pope Francis is planning to make a call to the International Space Station tomorrow (Oct. 26) to speak with Expedition 53 crewmembers. 

The video call will begin at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), and a webcast of the in-flight interview will broadcast live on NASA TV and on The Vatican's YouTube page. You can also watch it live here on

The Oct. 26 conversation will be the second time a pope has spoken with astronauts aboard the orbiting lab. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI made the first call to astronauts in orbit from the Vatican Library in Rome. [Space Station Photos: The Expedition 53 Crew in Orbit]

Pope Francis will speak with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli and three NASA astronauts: Randy Bresnik, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, NASA spokesman Dan Huot told in an email. "It's possible the Russian crew members may join," he added.

"This is actually an event that was set up by our colleagues at ESA and ASI," Huot said. (ASI stands for Agenzia Spaziale Italian, the Italian Space Agency that is part of ESA.) "They did it the last time two Italians were onboard in 2011 — Paulo was there," Huot added.

Nespoli, Bresnik and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy launched to the space station on July 28. Vande Hei, Acaba and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin launched later on Sept. 12, rounding out the Expedition 53 crew. 

During the 2011 call, Pope Benedict XVI spoke with 12 astronauts on the space station, including members of the space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 crew and the space station's Expedition 27. 

The Pope asked the astronauts several questions about their unique vantage point in space and how it affected their view on the origins and destiny of the universe and humanity. He called the conversation an "extraordinary opportunity" and expressed his admiration for the astronauts’ "courage" and "discipline."

Pope Francis has also demonstrated his faith in science by publicly supporting theories of evolution and the Big Bang. Be sure to tune in to tomorrow's live broadcast to see what themes the Pope will discuss with the astronauts on the space station. 

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.