Since 1971, moongazing citizens have longed for the UK to re-enter the space race, and today, with the establishment of the UK Space Agency in Swindon, the dreams of several dozen may at last be fulfilled.
Operating out of a small shed in his back garden, Dr Harvey Green told reporters the details of the new endeavour.
“We may not have the budget of NASA or whatever they call the space agency in Russia,” he said, fumbling with the rusted lock on the shed door, “but our ambitions are just as stratospheric!”
Once inside the ‘hub’, as Green insisted on calling it, reporters were treated to the sight of a grubby old PC; a large CB radio unit; and a big red button with the word ‘launch’ written on it in black marker pen.
As the PC emitted an eerie blue glow from its ‘Fatal exception: please restart’ screen, the CB crackled into life every now and again, picking up faint taxi radio messages from as far away as Bristol.
“And here it is!” said Dr Green, proudly whisking the sheet from a 2-litre bottle of Pepsi Max in the corner. “Our first space-faring vessel: the UKSS Wills & Kate!”
Swindon Space Agency
As reporters crowded towards the exit, Dr Green explained that the UK Space Agency was largely a self-funded affair; and appealed to the British public to dig deep into their pockets to help reclaim outer space for the Empire, before reciting a large passage from French novelist Jules Verne’s From The Earth To The Moon.
“According to my calculations,” he said, “The Wills & Kate should reach a height of approximately 237 feet; follow a trajectory in a rough north-easterly direction; then touch down again 4 minutes later somewhere on the outskirts of Cirencester.”
“It may be one small step for the UK Space Agency…” he said, waving his arms about oddly.
“…but I think you’ll agree it will be a giant leap for Fudgetunnel here”, he continued, opening his jacket to reveal a hamster wearing a tiny helmet cowering inside his breast pocket.
The UKSS Wills & Kate is scheduled to launch at 11.36am on April 23; or earlier, if Dr Green can afford the packet of Mentoes required to make it go.