During Endeavour’s mission, we were honored to speak live with Pope Benedict XVI from the Vatican. The Pope had some prepared words for us, and he asked some questions.
Pope Benedict XVI asked me:
“One of the things you have discussed concerns a responsibility we all have toward the future of our planet. I recall the serious risks facing the environment and the survival of future generations. Scientists tell us we have to be careful and from an ethical point of view, we must develop our conscience as well. From your extraordinary observation point how do you see the situation on Earth? Do you see signs of phenomena to which we need to be more attentive?”
Transcript of my answer:
“Your Holiness it is a great honor to speak with you. You’re right, it really is an extraordinary vantage point we have up here. On the one hand, we can see how indescribably beautiful the planet we have been given is. but on the other hand, we can clearly see how fragile it is. The atmosphere. for instance, when viewed from space looks paper-thin, and to think that this paper-thin layer is all that separates every living thing on our planet from the vacuum of space and is all that protects us, is really a sobering thought. You really have a sense here as you look down at our planet hanging in the blackness of space, that we are all on this together; riding on this beautiful, fragile oasis through the universe. It really fills us with a lot of hope to think that all of us on board this incredible orbiting Space Station, that was built by the many nations of our international partnership — to accomplish this tremendous feat in orbit shows that by working together and cooperating — we can solve many of the problems facing our planet, and overcome many of the challenges that face the inhabitants of our planet. It really is a wonderful place to live and work and it is a wonderful place to view our beautiful Earth.”