A 400-year-old metal cargo tag with "Yames Towne" etched into it is to take pride of place among other historical items onboard space shuttle Atlantis due to take off today (at 19:38 EDT - 8th June).

Space shuttle Atlantis is transporting the metal tag for the STS-117 mission to the International Space Station.to honor the 400th anniversary, this year, of the founding of what is now known as Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America.

Jamestown blur 
© NASA Langley Research Centre/Sean Smith   
Jamestown Rediscovery Project senior curator, Bly Straube, holds up the 400-year old tag

The relic will be stored with other commerorative mementoes in Atlantis' middeck floor cargo space for the roundtrip flight to the International Space Station.

William M. Kelso, director of archaeology at Historic Jamestowne for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, says: "We found the tag at the bottom of a well during a dig at the James Fort.

"It appears to be a discarded shipping tag from a crate or trunk that arrived from England around 1611. The artifact clearly marks Jamestown as a destination - our nation's first address."

Jamestown upclose 
© NASA LAngley Research Centre/Sean Smith   
The lead cargo tag is flying on Atlantis to honour the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown

NASA has teamed with Jamestown 2007 to promote the spirit of exploration then, now and in the future.

The artifacts' out-of-this-world trip is just one of a number of events held during the last 18 months that have commemorated the nation's pioneering spirit.

When the one-inch in diameter artifact lands back on Earth, it will have logged more than four million miles spanning four centuries.

It will have travelled from England to Jamestown, then to and from the space station.

Two sets of Jamestown commemorative coins, authorised by Congress and issued by the U.S. Mint, also are on Atlantis.

The cargo tag and coin sets honoring Jamestown were handed over to NASA's Lesa Roe, director of the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., but will be returned once landing back on earth.

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Source: FlightGlobal.com