Harold has taken its first tentative step in the international space race, as a local team of scientists claim to have put a dog in geostationary orbit.
Just 56 short years after Russia first launched a stray called Laika into space, the resourceful villagers stated they were ‘well on the way’ to setting up a commercial operation to ‘repeatedly and reliably make dogs go far away’.
Nigel Thorvald is the village blacksmith and the brawns of the operation: he claims the group’s viking blood drives their thirst to conquer brave, new frontiers. “Just like our forefathers, we are blazing a trail that has already been blazed”, said Thorvald. “But we are doing it more robustly, with a stronger emphasis on ironmongery and woodwork.”
Traditionally, objects have been launched into space using rockets powered by fierce chemical reactions. Sadly this wasn’t an option for Thorvald; a misunderstanding that arose from asking the post mistress to wrap a shortened shotgun for him now prevents him from buying anything explosive. Instead, his team uses an enormous trebuchet as a mechanical canine propellant, a device they jokingly refer to as ‘the dogapult’.
“A spaniel is the ideal dog for launching into space, it combines a good weight with an amenable character”, explained Thorvald. “They are aerodynamic and their ears look brilliant during the ascent: on our first day of testing, we must have put a dozen up there.”
Jealous cynics in Dunstable have claimed that the enterprise is a sham, and have instead attempted to link the venture with a series of accidents on the M1.
“It doesn’t take a genius to make a connection between Thorvald’s band of idiots and a small dog smashing through the windscreen of a northbound Eddie Stobart”, claimed one naysayer. “I’m not even sure why he thinks there’s a demand for this sort of service.”
Thorvald is unperturbed and will shortly silence his detractors, by producing a dog that he’s coaxed back to earth. “They’re obviously happy up there for now because they’re reluctant to come back”, admitted Thorvald, “I’ve tried everything, including cubes of liver and some biscuits.”
Thorvald plans a second test next week despite a growing number of protesters and a fairly formal-looking legal injunction. “Not to worry, this time I’ll test fire a tennis ball up there first”, he revealed. “They’ll come back then, spaniels are excellent retrievers.”
Thorvald will literally follow in NASA’s footsteps with the next stage in his mission. With some minor modifications, he hopes to fling a Big Trak to Mars.