Astronaut sparks panic after accidentally dialling 911 from space

The astronomical blunder sparked panic at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas and a security team was scrambled to the room where the call was put through.

He had been orbiting Earth in the International Space Station when he tried to make the call.

The 60-year-old spaceman explained how he had pressed 9 to make an outside call.

He then tried to phone internationally by pressing 011 - but mistakenly left out the zero.

Oblivious to the chaos he caused, the dutchman said he only realised his error when he received an email the following day.

Speaking in an interview about the cock-up, he told Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting: "I made a mistake.

"The next day I received an email message: 'Did you call 911?'"

Kuipers joked: "I was a little disappointed that they had not come up."

The astronaut - who completed two space missions totalling 203 days - also told how it is surprisingly easy to communicate with earth while on board the ISS.

He said that calls worked 70 per cent of the time - but that huge time delays were a struggle.

Kuipers recalled: "Sometimes people would hang up because they thought I did not say anything, so later on I started to talk as soon as I had dialled the last number".

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