The idea for a quick way to dial a number in case of an emergency was set forth by the FCC in 1967 and in 1968 AT&T assigned the numbers 9-1-1 as the emergency code throughout the US.
Over 240 million calls are received every year. Two million of them are non-emergency, which, if you do dial with no emergency, can be a large fine. However, for Andre Kuipers, I think we can give him a pass.
Andre, a Dutch Astronaut, was in the International Space Station and was trying to contact NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston TX. That’s when he accidentally dialed the local 911 line!
How did this happen? Well, it seems that to dial in space you first must dial a “9” and then the area code “011.” Yup, you guessed it… he missed the “0.” Add to this that he was floating around in space while he did this, and you can see why it happened.
Kuipers knew he made a mistake and it was confirmed the next day when he got an email asking him if he had dialed 911. He explained that he had missed the zero when dialing.
Andre’s time in space totals two missions and 203 days. He said that communicating with Earth while aboard the space station is very simple. He said satellites reach terrestrial phones about 70% of the time. You gotta love technology.