In a recent NASA press release, it was announced that a 400 year old piece of metal – probably a shipping tag of some sort – bearing the words “Yames Towne” will go onboard Atlantis and up to the space station. I don’t have too much of a problem with stunts like this, as it promotes space travel and makes it fun for everyone.
What I do have a problem with is this line from the press release (emphasis mine):
A nearly 400-year-old metal cargo tag bearing the words “Yames Towne” and some commemorative mementoes [sic] are packed in Atlantis’ middeck floor cargo space for the roundtrip flight to the International Space Station. Their hitchhike through the galaxy honors this year’s 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in North America.
I would think the NASA Public Affairs Office (where these releases get written) would know the difference between the galaxy and low-Earth orbit. But then, they’ve hired people in the past who are fuzzy on just how old the Earth is. Maybe they’re also hazy on the difference between a few hundred miles and a few hundred trillion.