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Astronauts Take Presidential Call

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. (Image credit: NASA TV.)

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

Shakinghands before they sat down in the space shuttle flight director's chair, thepresidential couple picked up telephones to shoot the vacuum with space stationand shuttle Discovery crews.

"Bushis here, and she brought here husband," said Mike Antonelli, spacecraftcommunicator here at Johnson Space Center (JSC), before STS-120 commanderPamela Melroy and ISS commander Peggy Whitson exchanged greetings with theBushes.

"We'rereally happy to have you here with us," Whitson said as missioncontrollers and their special visitors listened on.

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

"Thankyou Mr. President and Mrs. Bush. We are absolutely thrilled and honored tospeaking with you," Melroy said. "We just want to thank you for yoursupport of the space program. This is the visible evidence of it," shesaid, referring to the new Harmony module she and her fellow astronauts floatedin during the special visit.

"Godbless you all," said former First Lady Bush.

"And Godbless you as well," Melroy responded.

"Backto 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 proudof you all. Very, very proud."

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

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Dave Mosher

Dave Mosher is currently a public relations executive at AST SpaceMobile, which aims to bring mobile broadband internet access to the half of humanity that currently lacks it. Before joining AST SpaceMobile, he was a senior correspondent at Insider and the online director at Popular Science. He has written for several news outlets in addition to Live Science and Space.com, including: Wired.com, National Geographic News, Scientific American, Simons Foundation and Discover Magazine.