On a Sadder Note: “Spaceflight” 70-year-reign ends with death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

by | Sep 9, 2022 | Apollo, International Space Station, On a Sadder Note, Seradata News

Space Agencies from around the world including NASA and ESA have been paying their tributes to the late Queen of the UK, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who died at the age of 96 on 8 September 2022. She had been on the throne for over 70 years, celebrating her Platinum jubilee earlier this year. While her great grandfather Edward VII was on the throne when powered flight started (the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1901 was just into the Edwardian era), it was the new Elizabethan age which heralded orbital spaceflight. Having been brought up while Von Braun’s V2 (A4) rockets achieved suborbital spaceflight as they bombarded London, five years after she ascended the throne in 1952, on 4 October 1957 the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union. Four years later, on 12 April 1961, the diminutive Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first man to orbit the Earth in his Soviet Vostok capsule. In the subsequent celebratory world tour, Yuri Gagarin came to London to visit Her Majesty the Queen.

Yuri Gagarin in an open topped Rolls Royce during his post flight trip to London. Courtesy: The Royal Family

The Queen and especially her technology loving husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were noted supporters of spaceflight and visited several firms over the years which were involved in spaceflight.

Of course, they could all wear space industry-style clean-room hair nets instead…even if Her Majesty preferred to wear her hat when she visited SSTL’s clean-room some years ago. Courtesy: SSTL

In 1966, The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Houston Manned Space Centre, where he was presented with a Union Jack that was taken into space on Gemini 7 in December 1965.

Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II meets Apollo 11’s Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Courtesy: NASA

And it was in 1969 that Her Majesty hosted the crew of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, at Buckingham Palace after their successful landing on the Moon and their safe return.

The Queen reigned all through the Space Shuttle era and during the construction of the International Space Station, right up to the start of true reusable spaceflight with SpaceX’s activities. In 1991, Prince Philip visited NASA’s headquarters in Houston, Texas, where he sat in the command seat of a space capsule simulator, which he then had to dock. “It was like a bloody great mechanical copulator,” he amusingly said.

In 2007, as part of a State Visit to the United States of America, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited NASA’s Houston Mission Control, where Her Majesty spoke to three astronauts on board the International Space Station.

Her Majesty the Queen with her consort and support HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Courtesy: militarywikia.org

She also had an interest in the UK contribution to space. Having already met Dr Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, in December 2015 the Queen sent a good luck message to Britain’s second astronaut via the ESA programme, Major Timothy Peake, as he joined the International Space Station.

We at Seradata give our salute to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II who has served the United Kingdom and her other domains so well, and give our condolences to her family – especially to King Charles III who succeeds her, to her friends, and to her subjects. We end with this story which exemplifies Her Majesty’s excellent sense of humour.


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Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

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