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"PB phone home"....Pope Benedict to give the International Space Station a call

A satellite phone hook up with the ISS is planned for 4 May.

Image: Andrew Medichini/AP/Press Association Images

THE POPE IS to make history when he calls up some astronauts aboard the International Space Station next month.

The pontiff will be in satellite contact with two Italian astronauts, one of which is an ISS resident, while the other will be arriving aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, which is due to blast off next Friday. Also on board Endeavour will be its commander Mark Kelly, husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured in a shooting in Arizona in January.

Roberto Vittorio will be the sole Italian on board, joining a crew of six Americans. They’ll bring equipment and carry out repairs at the ISS. Vittorio will meet up with his countryman Paolo Nespoli who is aboard the Space Station. On 4 May the pair are expected to receive a satellite call from the Pope.

Meanwhile the Pope is also set to make history of a different kind, this time by become the first pontiff to engage in a televised question and answer session this afternoon to mark Good Friday. The questions though, have been restricted to those about Jesus.

- Additional reporting by AP

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Emer McLysaght

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