Why Elon Musk Once Launched A Wheel Of Cheese Into Space

Elon Musk is a lot of things to a lot of people. He's an entrepreneur, inventor, investor, father, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and launcher of the first privately-owned liquid-fueled rocket into outer space, per Brittanica. He's also known to be outspoken, sometimes unpredictable, and a bit on the quirky side. Case in point: A hidden wheel of space cheese hitchhiking into infamy.

Astronauts have to eat, right? Of course, but this stunt had nothing to do with hunger or sustenance on a perilous journey into unknown regions of the universe. The story begins more than a decade before SpaceX launched the first all-civilian space journey from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2021 (per NBC News). The eclectic humor of the cheesy joy ride took place back in 2010 on the unmanned Dragon space capsule, which circled the earth twice and successfully splashed with aplomb into the Pacific Ocean, notes Atlas Obscura.

A mischievous streak emerged early from Musk, the South African tech wizard who knew a thing or two about taking chances. But sending a wheel of cheese into outer space on an unmanned rocket is a head-scratcher on so many levels.

Wheel of cheesy fortune

Elon Musk is a known fan of pop culture and comic book characters, even naming his son after Professor X from X-Men and making a cameo appearance in the second "Iron Man" movie, per SFGate. This penchant for creative caricature seems to have inspired the secret wheel of Le Brouère cheese hidden on the Dragon space journey in 2010. In this case, the instigator of Musk's mischief was Monty Python comedy and an actor named John Cleese.

A "Cheese Shop" skit from the British "Monty Python's Flying Circus" features actor Cleese requesting dozens of obscure cheeses from a cheese purveyor, none of which were available. He eventually, exasperated, proclaims that the cheese shop has no cheese. Musk somehow correlated that cheese-less catastrophe with the sad absence of cheese in outer space surmises Atlas Obscura. Le Brouère, a relatively obscure artisan small-batch cheese, was the perfect choice for the entrepreneurial journey.

The cheese itself wasn't the only subliminal pop-culture nod onboard the Dragon the day it entered orbit. The Le Brouère wheel was nestled deep within a metal cylinder capped by a "Top Secret" label ­replicating a movie poster from the 1984 comedy film starring Val Kilmer, per Space.com. The bolted-down cover also featured a cow clad in galoshes taken from a gag within the movie.

Atlas Obscura states that the cheese still exists within the SpaceX universe and is on display to invited visitors at company headquarters.