‘Godspeed and God bless’: Space agencies and astronauts pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth’s reign encompassed all of human spaceflight and her death has been marked by agencies and astronauts around the world.
Voyager 1, the furthest man-made object from planet Earth was planned, launched, visited Jupiter and Saturn and left the solar system all during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
It’s so far away right now (14.6 billion miles) it will not be informed of King Charles III succession to the throne until tomorrow.
Nasa, which built and launched Voyager 1 in 1977, paid its own tribute to Her Majesty.
‘Queen Elizabeth II’s reign spanned all of spaceflight, predating both Sputnik and Explorer 1,’ the agency tweeted.
‘As we join the planet in marking her passing, we are moved by the curiosity Her Royal Highness showed our explorers over the years,” Nasa officials said.
Queen Elizabeth II dead: What happens next?
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has died after 70 years on the throne, with her death announced by Buckingham Palace on September 8, 2022.
She died at the age of 96 at her home in Balmoral, with her son, the now King Charles, and daughter Princess Anne by her side.
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The tweet was accompanied by a picture of Her Majesty meeting the crew of the Apollo 11 moon mission: Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, after they set foot on the lunar surface in 1969.
Aldrin, the last surviving member of the crew, posted his own send-off to the Queen alongside the same picture.
‘On behalf of the Apollo 11 crew, Godspeed and God bless the Royal Family,’ the 92-year-old astronaut wrote.
A separate tribute was posted by Nasa’s Johnston Space Centre in Houston, which serves as the central hub for the agency’s crewed missions into space. It showed two pictures of the Queen visiting the Centre during an official visit.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Space Agency also acknowledged her death, retweeting the official announcement and changing its header image to a black and white memorial photo.
The European Space Agency offered condolences, noting the Queen’s meeting with Tim Peake, Britain’s first astronaut to serve on the International Space Station.
‘ESA is saddened by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom,’ The agency wrote.
‘Her Majesty witnessed the dawn of the space age, meeting astronauts from Neil Armstrong to Britain’s own Tim Peake, who gifted her with the union flag patch from his spacewalk during the Principia mission.’
Peake himself tweeted an image of Queen Elizabeth and thanked her for a ‘lifetime of dedication and service’.
In 2016, Tim became the first British citizen to complete a spacewalk on the International Space Station, spending six months away from his loved ones away from planet Earth.
The Queen’s message to the moon
In 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission, Nasa invited 72 international heads of state to send a message along with the mission to the moon’s surface.
At first, the Queen was reluctant to offer a message for what she thought was ‘a gimmick’, according to the National Archives.
However, the Queen’s private secretary at the time, Michael Adeane, convinced her to proceed.
Writing on Buckingham Palace headed notepaper, he recorded the Queen had approved the message, adding: ‘Her Majesty agrees that this idea is a gimmick and it is not the sort of thing she much enjoys doing but she certainly would not wish to appear churlish by refusing an invitation which is so obviously well intentioned.’
The Queen’s message was carried on a tiny disc by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon on 21st July, 1969.
She had written: ‘On behalf of the British people, I salute the skills and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavour increase the knowledge and well-being of mankind.’
The Queen is said to have died peacefully with the now-King Charles and Princess Anne at her bedside at Balmoral in Scotland.
Family members including Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Edward sadly missed their chance to say goodbye in person, reports claims.
The nation has entered a period of official mourning that will last until seven days after the funeral.