UPDATED: Pope to address crews on space station Saturday

UPDATED information: The pope’s hookup with the International Space Station is now set for tomorrow at 13:11 Rome time (7:11 A.M. EDT) and the Vatican Television Center plans to live-stream it here.

VATICAN CITY — Now that the Space Shuttle Endeavour has lifted off and is scheduled to dock tomorrow with the International Space Station, plans are back on for Pope Benedict XVI to chat with the astronauts.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said today that the pope’s audiovisual satellite linkup with the space station is scheduled for 13:56 (1:56 p.m.) Rome time Saturday. The conversation originally was scheduled for May 4, but the Endeavour’s liftoff was delayed.

The papal linkup was organized by the European Space Agency, which has one Italian on the Endeavour and one Italian already on the space station. Both crews will be in the space station when the pope calls.

Pope Benedict at Castel Gandolfo last summer. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Father Lombardi also confirmed today that Pope Benedict has declined invitations for a summer vacation in the northern Italian Alps. Instead, the pope will go to his summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, early in July. There will be no weekly general audiences in July, Father Lombardi said.

While the pope isn’t scheduled to return to the Vatican until late September, he won’t be spending all his time at Castel Gandolfo: he’s scheduled to travel to Madrid in August for World Youth Day and to his native Germany in September.

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