SpaceX's 'secret' payload? A wheel of cheese

December 12, 2010 By W.J. Hennigan

In the historic launch of its Dragon space capsule Wednesday, Hawthorne, Calif.,-based rocket venture SpaceX didn't carry astronauts or cargo into outer space.

But it did transport a wheel of LeBrouere cheese.

The company, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., revealed Thursday that it lifted a "secret" payload into low Earth orbit aboard its cone-shaped Dragon spacecraft.

said the choice was a nod to the British comedy troupe Monty Python and its famous Cheese Shop skit.

In a news conference after Wednesday's launch, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk refused to say what the secret was, fearing that the joke would overshadow the momentous feat in the next day's headlines.

The launch from , Fla., marked the first time that a private company has developed and lifted a into orbit and have it survive a fiery re-entry.

In a half-century of spaceflight only five countries and one intergovernmental agency have been able to launch a spacecraft into orbit and have it successfully re-enter the Earth's atmosphere: the U.S., the Soviet Union/Russia, China, Japan, India and the European Space Agency.

It also may have been the first spaceflight of cheese. The record books don't say.

Explore further: SpaceX rocket launch aborted at last second


Related Stories

US space capsule launch set for Wednesday

December 7, 2010

A US company has received the go-ahead to launch its first space capsule into orbit Wednesday, in a key test for the future of commercial space flight as NASA looks to end its shuttle program.

US company could try spacecraft launch Wednesday

December 6, 2010

An American company may attempt to launch its first space capsule into orbit as early as Wednesday, in a key test for the future of commercial space flight as NASA winds down its shuttle program.

SpaceX Plans Reusable Seven Person Capsule

March 15, 2006

SpaceX said it plans to develop a reusable capsule that could carry a crew of up to seven into low Earth orbit, making it a competitor to assume some of the tasks of NASA's space shuttle fleet after it is retired.

US private rocket readies key demonstration launch

December 1, 2010

American firm SpaceX readied Tuesday the first demonstration launch of its Falcon 9 rocket to low Earth orbit for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program next week.

Recommended for you

STEREO—10 years of revolutionary solar views

October 26, 2016

Launched 10 years ago, on Oct. 25, 2006, the twin spacecraft of NASA's STEREO mission – short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory – have given us unprecedented views of the sun, including the first-ever simultaneous ...

Image: Changing colors in Saturn's pole

October 26, 2016

These two natural color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the changing appearance of Saturn's north polar region between 2012 and 2016.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 12, 2010
Excellent. Albatross!!!
not rated yet Dec 13, 2010
Which makes it the worlds first space aged cheese as it were
not rated yet Dec 13, 2010
In Holland we have the Edammer Cheese wich is shaped and legend has it, has been used as cannonballs during a siege, it wont be long before SpaceX will come up with their own cheesy Star Wars plan to knock out satellites with vacume hole cheese

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.