The Korea Herald


Pope blesses astronauts in 1st papal call to space

By 조정은

Published : May 22, 2011 - 13:42

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) _ Pope Benedict XVI had a direct line to the heavens Saturday, with NASA's help.

Speaking from the Vatican, the pontiff bestowed a historic blessing upon the 12 astronauts circling Earth during the first-ever papal call to space, wishing a swift recovery for the shuttle commander's wounded congresswoman wife and condolences for a station astronaut mourning his mother's death.

The ``extraordinary'' conversation, as Benedict described it, occurred after the Endeavour astronauts inspected a small gash in the shuttle's belly, to ensure their safe return to Earth after departing the International Space Station in just over a week. NASA later determined the damage posed no threat to the next-to-last flight in the 30-year shuttle program.

Seated at a table before a television set tuned to NASA's live broadcast from orbit, Benedict told the space travelers that ``you are our representatives spearheading humanity's exploration of new spaces and possibilities for our future.'' He said he admired their courage, discipline and commitment.

``It must be obvious to you how we all live together on one Earth and how absurd it is that we fight and kill each one,'' the pontiff said, reading from prepared remarks. ``I know that Mark Kelly's wife was a victim of a serious attack, and I hope her health continues to improve.''

Video feeds in Misson Control at Johnson Space Center show Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican talking with astronauts on the International Space Station Saturday morning May 21, 2011 in Houston. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo lead a Houston delegation of church leaders who witnessed the phone call from the Mission Control observation room. (AP) Video feeds in Misson Control at Johnson Space Center show Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican talking with astronauts on the International Space Station Saturday morning May 21, 2011 in Houston. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo lead a Houston delegation of church leaders who witnessed the phone call from the Mission Control observation room. (AP)

Kelly, who is of Irish-Catholic descent, thanked the pope for his kind words. His wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, had surgery to repair her skull Wednesday, four months after being shot in the head at a political event in Tucson, Arizona. She was nearly killed, yet managed to attend her husband's launch last Monday.

Kelly told the pope that borders cannot be seen from space and noted that down on Earth, people usually fight for resources. At the space station, solar power provides unlimited energy, ``and if those technologies could be adapted more on Earth, we could possibly reduce some of that violence,'' he said.

Benedict asked about the future of the planet and the environmental risks it faces, and wanted to know what the astronauts' most important message would be for young people when they return home.

Space station astronaut Ronald Garan Jr. spoke of the paper-thin layer of atmosphere ``that separates every living thing from the vacuum of space.'' And shuttle crewman Mike Fincke described how he and his colleagues ``can look down and see our beautiful planet Earth that God has made.''

``However, if we look up, we can see the rest of the universe, and the rest of the universe is out there for us to explore,'' Fincke said. ``The International Space Station is just one symbol, one example, of what human beings can do when we work together constructively.''

Near the end of the 18-minute conversation, Benedict expressed concern for astronaut Paolo Nespoli, whose 78-year-old mother died in northern Italy at the beginning of May while he was serving on the space station.

``How have you been living through this time of pain on the International Space Station?'' the pope asked.

   ``Holy Father, I felt your prayers and everyone's prayers arriving up here where outside the world ... we have a vantage point to look at the Earth and we feel everything around us,'' Nespoli replied in Italian.

Nespoli will end his five-month space station mission Monday, returning to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.

He will bring back with him a silver medal that shuttle astronaut Roberto Vittori took up with him on Endeavour, that was provided by the pope. It depicts Michelangelo's ``Creation of Man,'' the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Vittori floated the commemorative coin in front of him, then gently tossed it to Nespoli, positioned on the opposite end of the front row of astronauts.

``I brought it with me to space, and he will take down on Earth to then give back to you,'' Vittori told the pontiff. The astronaut said he prays in space ``for me, for our families, for our future.''

The long-distance papal audience was arranged by the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA provided technical support from Mission Control in Houston.

Inside the ancient frescoed halls of the Vatican _ where email wasn't even in wide use until a few years ago _ the call was received with visible awe.

The 84-year-old German-born Benedict chuckled when one of the astronauts began floating up at the end of the transmission. He waved to the U.S., Italian and Russian crew at the beginning and end of the call.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the call was evidence of the pope's desire to communicate with people however possible, be it sending a text message with a prayer of the day or a YouTube channel playing church teachings.

Pope Paul VI sent a greeting to the moon with Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, but it was in a silicon disk that contained goodwill messages from numerous countries and was left on the Sea of Tranquility. ``I look up at your heavens, made by your fingers, at the moon and stars you set in place,'' said Paul VI, quoting from Psalms 8.

Mission Control, meanwhile, was glowing. Flight controllers watched on monitors as the pope got set up for the interview.

``It was just an amazing event, really a beautiful event,'' said lead flight director Derek Hassmann.

Before gathering for the extra-special VIP call, the astronauts conducted an hour-long survey of the gouge in Endeavour's belly, using a 100-foot (30-meter) extension boom.

Mission managers ordered the inspection as a precaution, saying there was no reason to be alarmed by the damage generated by Monday's liftoff on Endeavour's final voyage. Experts on the ground immediately analyzed the 3-D images beamed down, and concluded the shuttle is safe for re-entry.

The extra safety checks were put in place following the 2003 Columbia disaster.

The gouge _ spanning two or three tiles _ measures just 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) by 2.4 inches (6.1 centimeters), and is less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) deep.

Similar damage was seen on a flight by Endeavour in 2007, and that, too, required no repair. By coincidence, that mission was commanded by Kelly's identical twin brother, Scott.

Still ahead for Kelly and his crew are three more spacewalks, the next one on Sunday. Landing is scheduled for June 1.


<한글 기사>

교황, 우주인과 첫 화상통화

(바티칸시티.케이프커내버럴 AP.AFP=연합뉴스) 교황 베네딕토 16세가 21일(현지

시각) 우주비행중인 미국 우주왕복선 엔데버호의 우주인들과 직접 화상통화를 했다.

지난 1969년 교황 바오로 6세의 메시지가 세계 각국의 인사말과 함께 실리콘 디스크에 담겨 유인 우주선 아폴로 11호의 우주인들에게 전달된 적은 있지만 교황이 우주인들과 직접 화상 통화를 한 것은 이번이 처음이다.

이는 미 항공우주국(NASA)의 기술 지원 아래 유럽우주기구(ESA)와 이탈리아  우

주청이 마련한 것으로, 베네딕토 16세는 이날 교황청 도서관의 안락의자에 앉아  우

주 궤도와 연결된 TV를 보며 우주인들과 통화했다.

국제우주정거장(ISS)의 직원들과 엔데버호의 우주인들은 교황을 향해 반갑게 손

을 흔들며 인사했고 교황도 미소를 띤채 손을 흔들어 화답했다.

20분간 이어진 이날 통화에서 베네딕토 16세는 "여러분은 새로운 우주와 미래의

가능성에 대한 인류의 탐험의 선봉에 선 우리의 대표"라며 우주인들의 용기와  절제

력, 헌신에 경의의 뜻을 표했다.

그는 또 "여러분에게는 하나의 지구에서 우리가 어떻게 함께 살아가고 있는지,

우리가 서로 싸우고 죽이는 것이 얼마나 터무니없는 일인지 분명하게 느껴질  것"이

라고 강조했다.

그는 특히 지난 1월 애리조나 총격사건으로 부상한 가브리엘 기퍼즈 연방하원

의원의 남편인 마크 켈리 엔데버호 선장과 최근 어머니가 숨진 파올로 네스폴리  대

원에게 위로의 뜻을 전했다.

교황은 우주공간에서의 생활과 지구의 미래, 지구가 처한 환경적 위험,  우주인

들이 지구에 돌아왔을 때 젊은이들에게 가장 전하고 싶은 메시지가 무엇인지 등에

대해 질문하기도 했다.

오는 23일 5개월간의 임무를 마치고 귀환하는 네스폴리 대원은 엔데버호의 로베

르토 비토리 대원이 앞서 교황으로부터 받아온 은제 메달을 다시 지구로 가지고 가

교황에게 전달하겠다고 밝혔다.