The internet laughs as man rejects a call from space

We’ve all ignored a phone call – whether you’re busy with something else or don’t feel like answering an unfamiliar number, it’s a normal part of modern life. But one Reddit user shared how he verified a very distant call this week before realizing what he’d done.

Reddit’s popular r/tifu subreddit, which stands for Today I f***ed up, is a place for users to share their bugs with others. On Tuesday, user EmpatheticApatheist shared his story, which now has more than 56,000 upvotes and thousands of comments.

He wrote: “A friend of mine is currently on his second mission to the International Space Station (ISS). I saw a call on my phone and the caller ID said ‘US Gov’. At first I had that feeling you get when the principal calls you into his office.”

The Redditor explained that he was in the middle of something with some other people. He showed them the ID which they all said not to answer. “Between everyone’s suggestion and my gut feeling I was in trouble, I sent it to voicemail,” he wrote.

But it turned out to be a very special long-distance call: “Turns out my mate was calling from space,” he said. “I had a chance to speak to someone who wasn’t on Earth was, and screwed it up.”

The International Space Station is a modular space station in low Earth orbit. Launched in November 1998, it is 110 meters long from end to end and flies around the world every 90 minutes at an incredible speed of 8 km/s.

Supervised call from the space station
International Space Station (ISS) orbiting in space and receiving an unknown call which is declined. A man has shared how he accidentally screened a call from his friend aboard the International Space Station.
dima_zel/Christian Horz, Getty Images/NASA

Because of the speed at which the station is moving, it is impossible to track it with ground stations. To maintain a data link, NASA has a small constellation of satellites known as Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) that provide constant communications between the ground and orbiting satellites at speeds similar to a fiber optic internet connection at home.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to call the ISS yourself. With no phone numbers in the traditional sense, the station has an internet-based phone system that works through a computer. With it they can call any number on earth, but they cannot call back phones at home.

Reddit users were amused by the unusual story and took to the comments to react. One user joked, “These long-distance charges are going crazy,” while another said, “I almost think it’s cooler that you have a voicemail from someone calling from space because you can save it.”

“No matter how many mishaps you have in life, big or small, you have a friend who looked the whole world over and decided to give you a call,” said another Reddit user.

Another comment joked, “We’ve been trying to reach you about your extended space shuttle warranty,” while another user wrote, “You definitely have friends in high places.”

news week asked EmpatheticApatheist for comment. The internet laughs as man rejects a call from space

Rick Schindler

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