Pope Francis Calls International Space Station

Pope Francis Calls International Space Station

Dialing in from the Vatican, the pontiff spoke to Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who helped translate for the five others onboard during a 23-minute conversation that was livestreamed on NASA TV and on the Vatican's YouTube page. "In light of your experiences in space, what are your thoughts regarding the place of man in the universe?"

Pope Francis is has completed his first phone call off the planet - and into space.

This is not the first time a pope has called the space station.

"I'd like to see you here to explore what it means to have a human being in space".

"We need to embrace who we are as individuals and respect those around us, and by working together we can do things much greater than we could do as individuals", he told the pope. "Don't forget roots", Francis replied approvingly of the reference to being inspired by a grandfather.

Francis asked the crew how they understand Dante's verse that love is the force that moves the universe.

Pope Francis said they were like a tiny United Nations, in which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

The Pope asked the crew - three Americans, two Russians and an Italian - what gives them the most joy in their work.

He added: "People can not come up here and see the indescribable beauty of our Earth and not be touched in their souls".

"It is a very fragile thing, the atmosphere is thin, so capable of doing harm, of destroying itself, and you have gone to look at it from the eyes of God".

The commander said he hoped the handsome images they capture from space and their example as global crewmembers successfully working together would be an inspiration and a model for the rest of the world.

Bresnik also said he hopes the global teamwork happening on the space station will inspire peace on earth, as well.

In his response, the pope said Bresnik had "managed to understand that the earth is too fragile and it passes in a moment".

Pope Benedict XVI rang the space station in 2011, and peppered its residents with questions about the future of the planet and the environmental risks it faced.

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