Members of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group breathed a sigh of relief today as the extra-mature handmade Cheddar launched into space on Tuesday 28th July, was found safe and sound by a Buckinghamshire resident, and handed in to Thames Valley Police.
Organisers of the launch believe the cheese, and its specially designed capsule built by the dairy farmers at a secret location in the West Country, did indeed achieve its space-bound objective as the large weather balloon used specifically to take the pod up to the 100,000 feet had burst, and the parachute had engaged, guiding the 300g wedge safely back to earth.
Discovered late last night in the Cressex area of High Wycombe by a resident who wishes to remain anonymous, the pod was handed in to local police officer Detective Constable Jane James, who notified the cheesemakers group. Final calculations suggest the pioneering cheese travelled 439,927.822 feet from launch to landing site…no mean feat for an 18-month old no matter how mature!
The capsule carried digital camera equipment and a GPS satellite tracking device, but the latter failed to send any signals back to earth and so far the camera has not displayed any images from the flight.
Philip Crawford, chairman of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group, said: “We are thrilled to announce the success of our space odyssey. We feel we have appropriately marked the 40th anniversary of the first man on the moon in our own way with a first for cheese. We are also incredibly touched by the public support for the safe return of the Cheddarnaut and are delighted that people are as proud of this West Country food icon as we are.”
In 2007 the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers turned a traditional round of Cheddar into an internet sensation by attracting 1.8 million visitors to www.cheddarvision.tv to watch the cheese mature live on the web over the course of 12 months. In 2008 it uncovered the formula for the perfect cheese sandwich in partnership with Bristol University and launched www.cheddarometer.com.