Queen ElizabethII heard from astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) Tuesdayduring a visit to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
ISSExpedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineers Oleg Kotov andSunita Williams stressed that the fundamental cooperation among nations thathas made the space station a reality will prove vital for future explorationduring their session with the queen.
"TheInternational Space Station is a great example of how different countries anddifferent cultures can work together," Kotov said. "It's a great role model forcompanies and even governments. It shows that we can work through ourdifferences."
Veteran spaceflyerMichael Foale, who hails from Cambridge, England and has logged more days in space (just over 374) than any other NASA astronaut, hosted the ISSdiscussion with the queen. He described life aboard the station and his sixspaceflights with the British monarch.
"Fascinating,"she told Foale at the space station's Network Integration Center at Goddard inGreenbelt, Maryland as he spoke of his time as the outpost's Expedition 8 commander.
Williams toldthe queen that the space station is a stepping stone for human exploration asastronauts prepare to return to the Moon and push outward to Mars.
"We'redoing a myriad of experiments that will help us understand how to live in spacefor an extended period of time so that we can build spacecraft to go back tothe Moon and on to Mars," Williams said of the space station. "It's a wonderfulplace to live."
The queen andhusband Prince Philip are conducting a six-day U.S. visitto commemorate the 400th anniversary of the English settlement of Jamestown in Virginia. In addition to hearing from the Expedition 15 crew,the British Royal Family met with schoolchildren, NASA and governmentdignitaries, and participated in a tree planting ceremony in the Goddard center'sRocket Park.
British-bornNASA astronauts Piers Sellers and Nick Patrick were also onhand for theactivities.
"YourMajesty, thank you very much for this great day for us," Yurchikhin told thequeen. "It's very great to see that you are interested in this program."
The BritishRoyal Family's NASA visit follows an April 19 letter of intent between the U.S.space agency and British National Space Centre to study potential areas forfuture collaboration on lunar science and exploration.
"We hope towork closely with the United Kingdom on new endeavors involving the Moon," NASAchief Michael Griffin said during the queen's visit.
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