Mary Rose sails into orbit

Ceremony with the Mary Rose

From M&H news

Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew of astronauts launched into space today (16 May) carrying a little piece of English maritime heritage with them on their way to the International Space Station.

A three-inch wooden ball from the 16th century warship, which sank in 1545 in the Battle of the Solent, has joined six astronauts as they sail into the vast ocean of space on Endeavour’s last-ever mission.

The ball, called a "parrel," was part of the mechanism used to raise sails up the masts of the iconic ship. The Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard presented the crew of the Atlantis Space Shuttle with the artefact with a view to sending it up to space on a future mission. And now that mission has launched.

As well as carrying the Mary Rose artefact, crew members Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori also have another mission to complete.

During the 16-day operation, Endeavour will carry the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station. The AMS is a cutting-edge physics experiment designed to look for anti-matter in the cosmos and, perhaps, unlock the mystery of what makes up most of the mass in the universe.

John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: “It was really tremendous to have the opportunity to present this little piece of the Mary Rose to the visiting shuttle crew to take back to Houston, and we are thrilled that she will be making history once more on the final mission for Endeavour.

“The Mary Rose was as revolutionary in technological advances 500 years ago as the Space Shuttle was in the early 1980s. Both have helped pioneer exploration and advance the sciences. It is most appropriate to mark their place in history in this manner.”

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