- Associated Press - Thursday, December 9, 2010

HAWTHORNE, CALIF. (AP) - The California rocket company that launched a spacecraft into orbit and successfully returned it to Earth this week has revealed its secret payload _ a wheel of cheese.

Space Exploration Technologies on Thursday released photographs of the wheel in a container that was bolted to the floor of its Dragon capsule for Wednesday’s test flight from Florida.

SpaceX says the flight of the round of Le Brouere was a tribute to the Monty Python comedy team, which had a famous cheese shop sketch.

After circling the world twice, the capsule parachuted to a Pacific Ocean splashdown and the cheese is now on a barge headed to California.

The Hawthorne-based company is the brainchild of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. He’s developing rockets and the Dragon spacecraft for NASA supply missions to the international space station.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/home/index.html

SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/