Cheddar Lost in Space
Britain's space program has suffered a major setback after its latest mission ended in disaster. Just minutes after launch from a field in Wiltshire, England, mission control lost contact with the spacecraft and its precious cargo - 300g (0.666lb) of Somerset farmhouse cheddar cheese.
"There's no doubt in my mind," said Wallace Wensleydale, unofficial spokesman for the program, "this was an act of aggression from forces beyond our planet."
During preparations for the mission, scientists from the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers' Group, which is apparently responsible for Britain's current space program, had carefully and meticulously glued the lump of cheese to a plate. Also on board the spacecraft was a camera to monitor the cheese as it ascended quite close to the edge of near-space. The craft - a modified, military-surplus weather balloon - also carried a radio tracking device so that the scientists could recover the cheese for analysis after the mission.
"We knew that the cheese was going to be subject to extreme forces during its epic journey," said Wensleydale. "And it could end up almost anywhere - perhaps as far away as Somerset or, God forbid, Cheshire. We wanted to study what effect getting close to space has on dairy-based comestibles."
But they were never to get the chance.
The launch was intended to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon (some in the group still believe that was a cheese-related mission). But the result was less Apollo and more Roswell.
"Clearly, this is proof that the aliens responsible for abductions, cattle mutilations and other dark acts are French. Or French-like," said Wensleydale. "At the very least, we know they're cheese-eating."
Others are less sure. "We think it's somewhere in the East of England - possibly in Essex or Hertfordshire," said Dom Lane, of the cheesemakers' group to a British newspaper.
The group issued a plea for anyone finding the Cheddar payload to return it to mission control. It's believed they are offering a reward of up to three packs of salted crackers.
UPDATE! The cheese has been found - dumped in a field in South Buckinghamshire. First reports suggest the lump of cheddar is intact and apparently unmolested. However, the full details won't be known until forensic tests have been completed.
"This in no way affects my belief that the aliens who originally abducted it were French-like," said Wallace Wensleydale. "Clearly, the cheese-eating ETs were attracted to it, probably by the smell. But when they discovered it was a good, solid English cheese, and not some of that runny French muck like Camembert, they rejected it."
Scientists analyzing the recovered space cheese refused to comment on whether the cheddar had been probed or mutilated in any way. "It's too early to tell," said one, "but frankly, I don't like the look of it."