Artisans craft small batches of Le Brouère using milk from grass-fed cows, molded in patterned wood. It tastes a bit like Gruyère, and makes a splendid accompaniment to bread, nuts, and crisp fruit. According to a manufacturer, Le Brouère makes a “dynamic and compelling” grilled cheese. SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk decided it was also well-suited for launching into orbit.
In 2010, the rocket venture formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. announced a “secret payload” aboard the maiden flight of their Dragon spacecraft. Fearing the secret cheese would distract press from the actual point of the mission, Musk refrained from revealing anything about it until the project was completed.
The Dragon’s mission marked the first time a space capsule developed by a private company was launched into orbit and successfully returned to Earth. In a feat previously accomplished by only six government space agencies, the cone-shaped capsule reentered the atmosphere and emerged from its Pacific Ocean splashdown intact. Only then did Musk reveal that a wheel of Le Brouère had hitched a ride, circling Earth twice on its journey.
SpaceX said the move was inspired by a famous skit from the British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in which actor John Cleese enters a cheese shop and requests dozens of oddly-named cheeses. He then concludes that the shop—much like outer space—doesn’t have any cheese.
In another instance of pop culture coinciding with the historic achievement, the bolted cover of the metal cylinder used to transport the cheese was decorated with the poster from the 1984 movie Top Secret, which happened to feature a cow wearing galoshes.