As if being an astronaut wasn't already a dream job, add personal calls from the band U2 to the list of perks in space.
U2 members Bono and The Edge, along with Bono's sons Eli and John, stopped by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston Tuesday to call up to the spaceflyers on the International Space Station.
"We've had our breath taken away this morning to be led in here into this place," Bono told the astronauts. "It is an amazing church of possibilities. We're here to pay homage."
Musicians, clowns and astronauts
The group made the stop while in town for their planned concert Wednesday at Houston's Reliant Stadium. They spoke to station commander Frank De Winne of Belgium, NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Jeff Williams, and Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Roman Romanenko.
Joining in on the call via another phone was Guy Laliberte, a Canadian space tourist who landed Sunday in Kazakhstan after an 11-day stint in space.
"Hey Guy, how you doin' buddy? This is Max, we miss you!" Suraev called.
Laliberte said he missed everybody on the space station too, and is still adjusting to life back on Earth.
"There's a part of me that stays in space and will probably stay forever there," he said. "I can't leave such a beautiful environment totally."
Laliberte, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil, is also a friend of Bono and The Edge's, and collaborated with them and other artists last week on a performance from Earth and space to advocate for water conservation.
"You're the first artist in space and that's an amazing thing," Bono told Laliberte.
In reference to Laliberte's visit, Bono asked the astronauts, "Was it different having an artist rather than an engineer or a scientist with you?"
"It was for sure different to have an artist up here," De Winne responded. "Guy was a big professional up here. He did very well, we all enjoyed it terribly. We don't usually run around in red noses, so it was a change for us for sure."
While Laliberte was on the station he sported his signature red clown nose, and even brought one for each of his co-spaceflyers to wear.
One of the most visibly excited astronauts to speak to the U2 musicians was Romanenko, a second-generation cosmonaut who eagerly introduced himself to Bono and The Edge.
"I'm very familiar with your art and I'm looking forward to take part next year in Moscow in your performance," he said. "How 'bout one song with you guys?"
"How's your guitar playing, Roman?" The Edge asked.
De Winne vouched for him. "Roman is a very good singer and he also plays guitar," he said. "If he can perform on stage in Moscow, I will for sure come and watch him."
The band members seemed open to the possibility. Bono called Romanenko a "pop star in space," and he and The Edge said they'd try to get him on stage in Moscow.
Bono also said the band would give a shout-out to Nicole Stott's husband and son, who planned to attend U2's Houston performance.
The musicians and the boys had lots of questions for the spaceflyers. John, 8, asked if it's really possible to see the Great Wall of China from space, and when told yes, Bono chimed in, "What about our U2 production?"
De Winne assured him that with the more than 90 trucks the band probably had for the upcoming show in Houston, they would likely be able to see it.
Overall, everyone seemed thrilled with the conversation.
"We're just trying to do a simple thing which is remind people back on Earth that the impossible is possible and that's what your courage and your focus reminds us all," Bono told all the