Astronauts were bitterly disappointed yesterday to find a card on their mat indicating that the first Royal Mail delivery to the International Space Station had arrived when they were out.
The parcels of gifts from relatives, supplies of food and scientific equipment could not be delivered because, according to the card, 'no-one was home and a signature was required'. The space scientists must now collect the items from their nearest sorting office, something which is difficult to determine because of the high orbital velocity of their craft.
But astronauts aboard the International Space Station are adamant that the airlock bell was never rung. 'I caught a glimpse of this guy with a bike drifting by outside the port-hole and there was no way he was hanging about to see if we were in or not,' said one. 'Before I could get my trousers on, he'd left this barely legible card on the mat and was gone.'
A spokesman for Royal Mail contested this version of events. 'Our postman would have knocked at least twice before leaving a card, and if there was still no reply, he had explicit instructions to leave the items with a neighbour.'