NASA and other members of the space community join the chorus in mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen, who passed away today (September 8) at the age of 96, has ruled the country for 70 years, longer than any other monarch in the history of the United Kingdom. As NASA notes, she has seen a lot in these seven decades.
“The reign of Queen Elizabeth II covered all space flights that preceded both Sputnik and Explorer 1. As we join the planet in commemorating her departure, we are touched by the curiosity Her Royal Highness has shown for our explorers over the years,” NASA said on Twitter today. (will open in a new tab). (Explorer 1 was the first successful US satellite; it went into orbit in February 1958, four months after Sputnik 1.)
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Queen Elizabeth II’s reign spanned every space flight that preceded both Sputnik and Explorer 1. As we join the planet in commemorating her departure, we are touched by the curiosity Her Royal Highness has shown towards our explorers over the years. pic.twitter.com/ZAVFjDA8gvSeptember 8, 2022
The tweet included a photo of the Queen meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin following their historic 1969 mission to the Moon.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, the agency’s manned spaceflight liaison, also tweeted a tribute today, complete with two photos.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s influence has reached all corners of the world and we are so fortunate to be able to host her visit to @NASA_Johnson. We are joining the planet to honor its memory,” AO officials wrote. (will open in a new tab).
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s influence has reached all corners of the world and we are so fortunate to have had the privilege of hosting her visit to @NASA_Johnson. We join the planet in honoring her memory. pic.twitter.com/aQCypGdsZdSeptember 8, 2022
The UK space agency has changed the Twitter header photo. (will open in a new tab) in honor of the queen. And the European Space Agency also issued condolences today. (will open in a new tab): “The European Space Agency is saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Her Majesty witnessed the dawn of the space age, meeting astronauts from Neil Armstrong to Britain’s Tim Peake, who presented her with a Union Flag patch during his spacewalk. Mission Principia”.
Peak paid his respects to the late Queen via Twitter today (September 8). “Wonderful woman. Thank you, ma’am, for your lifetime of service and dedication. Sad day and our thoughts are with @RoyalFamily,” wrote the British astronaut. (will open in a new tab). (Principia is the name given to his mission aboard the International Space Station, which lasted from December 2015 to June 2016.)
I can’t think of anyone better to represent duty. My deepest condolences to all Britons mourning her passing today. https://t.co/rCkagaglETSeptember 8, 2022
Good words were also brought in by big names in the private space sector. “I can’t think of anyone who better represents duty. My deepest condolences to all Britons mourning her today,” Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos tweeted today. (will open in a new tab).
And British billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies that includes Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, posted a blog post today. (will open in a new tab) titled “The Queen Redefined Leadership”.
“She has lived a life of service upholding the best of British values, showing grace and perseverance in an ever-changing world,” wrote Branson, who said he had met the Queen many times over the years. “She was extremely calm, very insightful, and a great listener—all excellent qualities of a leader. She also had a great sense of humor and showed great interest in the people she met wherever she went.”
Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).