WASHINGTON -- Better practice your royal wave. The queen is coming to Maryland.
The 81-year-old monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 85, will spend about two hours at Goddard on May 8, the British embassy and the space center said yesterday. They will visit mission control and speak with astronauts on the International Space Station.
The stop at Goddard, during a visit to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the English settlement at Jamestown in Virginia, is intended to show that the United States and Britain can build on a shared heritage to strengthen relations into the future.
"A common thread will be the exploration of new frontiers, discovery and the desire to push back the boundaries of our worlds and knowledge, which is an enduring spirit from the settlers of 1607 to the astronauts and doctors of the 21st century," an embassy spokesman said.
The visit follows an agreement signed by NASA and the British National Space Centre last week to study ways in which the two agencies might work together to explore the moon and beyond.
The royal couple will arrive in the United States next week to join in celebrations to mark the quadricentennial of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Besides visiting Jamestown and Williamsburg, they will dine at the White House, lay a wreath at the National World War II Memorial and attend the Kentucky Derby during their May 3-8 visit.
The queen also intends to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings during her visit, the embassy spokesman said, but details were still being worked out.
At Goddard, the queen will attend a reception with the center's scientists and engineers, witness a demonstration of Science on a Sphere - a system in which three-dimensional animations are projected onto a 6-foot ball - and take part in a tree-planting ceremony.
"The visit gives the royal couple the opportunity to meet these 21st-century explorers of new worlds," the embassy spokesman said.
The queen will be the first foreign head of state to visit Goddard, NASA spokesman Ed Campion said. He described the staff as excited to receive her.
"We're obviously honored to be able to showcase some of the space agency's exploration efforts," Campion said. "Many of our programs and projects here at Goddard, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, have a strong partnership with the United Kingdom."
The European Space Agency, of which Britain is a member, supplied the original and the replacement solar arrays to the orbiting telescope, and British investigators use it to make observations.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski plans to join the queen at Goddard.
"I am so proud to welcome the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh to Maryland's world-class space facility, and to show Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the truly extraordinary contributions that Goddard makes to science, exploration and discovery," the Maryland Democrat said in a statement. "When astronauts go out into space, they stand on the shoulders of Goddard."
It will be the queen's fourth state visit to the United States and her first since 1991. On her first, in 1957, she took part in ceremonies to mark the 350th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
On the May trip, the embassy said, the royal couple will see "the significant archaeological discoveries that have transformed the site since their earlier visit."
Highlights of the Queen's visit
Richmond - Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at the Governor's Mansion, and the queen makes a speech to the Virginia Assembly.
Jamestown, Williamsburg - Jamestown Settlement archaeological site. Lunch, Governor's Palace in Williamsburg. The queen visits the College of William and Mary. The prince attends a reception aboard USS Wisconsin.
Kentucky - The Kentucky Derby.
Washington - Evening arrival, Andrews Air Force Base.
Washington - Arrival ceremony, South Lawn of the White House. Garden party, British Ambassador's Residence. State Dinner, White House.
Washington, Maryland. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Children's National Medical Center, World War II National Memorial. Dinner, Ambassador's Residence. Departure, Andrews Air Force Base.