NASA astronauts have taken a mast piece (above) from the Mary Rose
A ball-bearing used on the masts of Henry VIII's Mary Rose 500 years ago will orbit space on NASA's Atlantis Space Shuttle after a crew of Houston astronauts borrowed it from the ship's naval base for use on a future mission.
The tiny wooden piece, taken from the 19,000-object collection on the 16th century icon, was handed over on board HMS Warrior, one of the Rose's neighbouring ships. It is the latest trophy the team will travel with following their decision to take a four inch wood sample of Sir Isaac Newton's famous apple tree on a previous intergalactic voyage.
The parrel was part of the mechanism used to carry sails up masts
Officials at the Dockyard have a track record of space links, having employed British American astronaut Michael Foale – the first Briton to perform a space walk and the former record holder for time spent in space by a US citizen – as a volunteer diver on the excavation of the Mary Rose in 1981.
"It is 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," said Mary Rose Trust Chief Executive John Lippiett.
"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."
The Mary Rose 500 Appeal are currently fundraising to secure the building of the new Mary Rose Museum to open in 2012. Visit the appeal online for full details.