How To Dial 911 From Space

Dial 911

Used to dialing 9 to call out when you’re at work? So are astronauts.

But that pesky, extra digit tripped up Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, when he accidentally called 911 from the International Space Station.

The astronaut was trying to dial an international number, he told Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, when he erred. Floating inside the space station, he made a mistake many people make in regular gravity — he missed a number.

“First you dial the 9 for an outside line, and then 011 for an international line,” he explained. “I made a mistake, and the next day I received an email message: Did you call 911?”

The 60-year-old astronaut hung up promptly when he realized his error, but the call triggered an alert some 200 miles below at Mission Control, in Houston. NASA security checked the room where the call was patched through. The astronaut, of course, was conspicuously absent.

He shared his slip-up in a conversation with the Dutch broadcaster about Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing, noting that it’s actually quite easy to call Earth from the space station these days — though there’s often a time delay.

Wayne Hale, who served as a flight director in NASA’s Mission Control, tells NPR that astronauts in the International Space Station have been able to make calls as they please for more than a decade now. The phone system uses voice over Internet protocol, the same technology that lets Earthbound people place Internet calls over Skype.

Dial 911a

“A capability that was built into the ISS, with the rise of Internet phone calls, is the ability for the astronauts in the space station to just dial up anybody that they might want to,” Hale said. “Many people have gotten calls from space.”

Holly Ridings, chief flight director at NASA, has received plenty of those calls.

“You’re carrying your phone around and it’ll ring and it’ll be the space station,” she told Space Answers in 2013. “It’s really actually kind of cool, it never gets old.”

Misdials from space are nothing new. British astronaut Tim Peake once issued an apology on Twitter for a mistaken call.

China Takes Wind Out Of Apple iPhone Sales

Apple iPhone

Apple is cutting billions from its revenue estimates for the just-ended holiday season, citing sharply slower iPhone sales in China.

“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday in a letter to Apple investors.

To Apple investors:

Today we are revising our guidance for Apple’s fiscal 2019 first quarter, which ended on December 29. We now expect the following:

  • Revenue of approximately $84 billion
  • Gross margin of approximately 38 percent
  • Operating expenses of approximately $8.7 billion
  • Other income/(expense) of approximately $550 million
  • Tax rate of approximately 16.5 percent before discrete items

We expect the number of shares used in computing diluted EPS to be approximately 4.77 billion.

Based on these estimates, our revenue will be lower than our original guidance for the quarter, with other items remaining broadly in line with our guidance.

While it will be a number of weeks before we complete and report our final results, we wanted to get some preliminary information to you now. Our final results may differ somewhat from these preliminary estimates.

Cook lowered the company’s revenue guidance for the three months that ended Dec. 29 to about $84 billion from as much as $93 billion.

The announcement of weakness from one of the world’s largest companies offers fresh evidence of a global economic slowdown, which has sent stock markets sliding in recent months.

Cook said that in its earlier projection, Apple had “expected economic weakness in some emerging markets. This turned out to have a significantly greater impact than we had projected.” The company also saw “fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated,” he said.

In August, Apple became the first private sector company worth $1 trillion. But its stock has dropped more than 30 percent in the past three months, leaving its market cap at below $750 billion. Apple’s stock fell an additional 9.3 percent Thursday morning.