We've all heard the moon is made out of cheese, and cows can jump over the moon. So launching cheese in a balloon into the upper atmosphere seemed the natural next step for a group of Vermont artisan cheesemakers.
"This is the launch of something big for us," said Mateo Kehler, who along with his brothers, own the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro.
The brothers have big plans.
"I think it is pretty awesome, I got up early on a Sunday to watch cheese launch into space," said Liz Thorpe from Brooklyn, New York.
On a sleepy summer day, folks gather on a Vermont hillside to launch three pounds of Bayley Hazen Blue cheese -- into the blue. "It is a launch. We're sending two pieces of Bayley Hazen Blue up over 100-thousand feet today," Kehler said.
Ryan Nolin is the aviation consultant here. The Georgia-based balloon aerial photography hobbyist will follow every movement of the cheese. "Never done cheese before. I don't think anyone has done cheese before. This is a first," he said.
The cheese is attached to a balloon. Cameras on board will capture the cheese in space
"It is already transmitting it is at 3-thousand feet right now, so we are good," Nolin reported.
"Our hope is we are going to break 100-thousand feet today and we will get some great shots of Bayley Hazen Blue with the upper atmosphere in the background, see the curvature of the earth and see what else we might see up there," Kehler said.
Maybe even the moon. But the cows won't be jumping over the moon, they are needed to make the cheese. As they were being milked below, the year of marketing Bailey Blue quickly reached new heights.
"We are hoping it is going to go over the moon. If we break 100-thousand, it will be the moon in our book," Kehler said.
The cheese just kept reaching for the stars, and floating far away from its fans. Many commented: What a waste of good cheese.
"We have GPS device and a couple of trucks and four wheelers. We will be out there making sure we get that cheese back," Kehler said.
The cheese took a few twists and turns along the way. For a bit, the Bailey Blue had its sights on Victory Bog. But St. Johnsbury was also within sight. "We think it is going to land in St. Johnsbury which is about 25 nautical miles, so it's landing fairly close for landing that high," Nolin said.
Four hours into it's flight, the cheese -- with the help of a popped balloon -- decided it had enough. It was time to return to earth. The tracking device led these sharp cheese chasers to a tree just off a road between St. Johnsbury and Lyndonville.
"It went east. It actually did a figure eight almost. It made it to 103-thousand feet so it was in the jet stream and changed directions back and forth. It came down pretty fast about 2000 feet a minute. All in all it went pretty well," Nolin said.
A picture perfect launch and landing of an artisan cheese made in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
"it is perfect blue cheese for people who feel they don't like blue because it is sweet, mellow and just compulsively edible," Liz Thorpe said.
And almost out of this world.
Slices of the original wheel will be auctioned. Because of food safety reasons the actually slice that went up can not be sold. Jasper Hill says the money raised will go to the American Cheese Education Foundationin the memory of Daphne Zepos, who was a giant in the cheese world and helped Jasper Hill in the early days of their business.
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