Space Answers First Papal Call
During the approximately 20-minute call from the Vatican, the pope addressed the importance of science and exploration, commended the six-member shuttle Endeavour crew and six-member station crew for their work, and asked the groups about living in space.
Benedict also offered condolences to two of the astronauts. Paolo Nespoli, an Italian from the European Space Agency, learned his mother died earlier this month while he was still in space. NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly is married to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded from an assassination attempt in January and has been rehabilitating in Houston.
Nespoli and two other station residents are scheduled Monday to land back on Earth via their Soyuz capsule. The shuttle crew, who docked to the station earlier this week, is due to return from its mission in June.