quote: For more about the Yames Towne cargo tag and its journey into space, see our previous coverage at:
NASA Returns Jamestown Artifacts After Six-Million-Mile Journey
A nearly 400-year-old cargo tag inscribed with the words "Yames Towne" and two sets of gold and silver commemorative coins honoring Jamestown's 400th anniversary have completed a six-million-mile journey aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis that took them to the International Space Station and back.
During a special ceremony held Sept. 6 at Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne, NASA Langley Research Center Director Lesa Roe and Patrick Forrester, one of the astronauts who flew the Atlantis mission, presented the cargo tag and coin sets to representatives from the two Jamestown sites and the National Park Service's Colonial National Historical Park.
Jamestown 2007, the planning agency for America's 400th Anniversary, established a partnership with NASA in 2006 in honor of Jamestown's enduring spirit of exploration. The coins and artifact were stowed aboard the shuttle during its 14-day mission in June to highlight the connection between NASA's space exploration efforts and the explorers who established America's first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in the spring of 1607.
"Within six months of departing England in December of 1606, a team of 17th-century explorers established a permanent English outpost in what would become America. NASA is continuing America's enduring spirit of exploration in the 21st century by working to establish a permanent outpost on the moon and continue exploring beyond," said Lesa Roe, NASA Langley Research director.
The cargo tag, found at the bottom of a well during an ongoing archeological dig at the site of James Fort on Jamestown Island, is most likely a discarded shipping tag from a crate or a trunk arriving from England around 1611. The cargo tag will return to APVA Preservation Virginia's permanent collection at Historic Jamestowne.
"This cargo tag marked Jamestown as a destination and symbolized the English's foothold in what would become the United States," said Elizabeth Kostelny, executive director of APVA Preservation Virginia, who along with the National Park Service, operate Historic Jamestowne, the site of the original James Fort.
The commemorative coins, a $5 gold piece and a silver dollar, were authorized by Congress and contain visual references to Jamestown's legacies of representative government, free enterprise, cultural diversity and the spirit of exploration. They flew aboard shuttle Atlantis along with the artifact. Representatives from Jamestown Settlement, an AAM-accredited 17th- century living history museum, and the National Park Service, which oversees the Colonial National Historical Park at Historic Jamestowne, accepted the coins for their respective museums.
"The gold and silver commemorative coins depict Jamestown's legacies and the role they played in the creation of the United States," said Jamestown- Yorktown Foundation Executive Director Phil Emerson. "Like NASA's space program, the legacies of Jamestown's will continue to inspire generations of future explorers."
Sandy Rives, Virginia Director of the National Park Service and Jamestown 400th Project Director, said, "These coins continued the journey that began four centuries ago when 104 men and boys set foot on Jamestown Island. As America begins its 5th century, these coins will be a reminder of how far the nation has come."