A block of stilton cheese is going to be launched into space - and it's all down to the online antics of one Hertfordshire man.

Alan Pender, a Hitchin construction site manager, goes by the name Joe Bangles CBE on Twitter.

On July 19, 2020, Joe Bangles asked Elon Musk - billionaire and Tesla founder - the fateful question: "What is your favourite cheese?"

Elon replied: "Stilton."

Over the months which followed, a collective of developers, influencers and marketers set about to create the $STILTON cryptocurrency, and the team is using the fortune which they have amassed to send a piece of cheese to space.

Alan - or Joe - said: "I've become a social media ambassador for the cryptocurrency and apparently cheese in general.

"The cryptocurrency was made off the back of my cheesy Twitter antics.

"I was just down the pub and these guys got in touch with me about three or four weeks ago.

"They said they had made a cryptocurrency based solely on Elon's reply.

"My background is in construction - not crypto - so it rings a few alarm bells.

"But over the last couple of weeks they've grown and grown, and are now sending some stilton into space as a bit of a mad promo.

"I said I could get behind that!"

The Comet: Joe Bangles coaxed Elon Musk into revealing his favourite cheese - StiltonJoe Bangles coaxed Elon Musk into revealing his favourite cheese - Stilton (Image: Twitter)

Joe said that he didn't realise how seriously and expensive the developers had taken $STILTON.

"You hear about these pump and dumps, where people invest a lot of money into these projects and it loses money," he said.

"I didn't really want to get behind something that could potentially lose people's money.

"Having spoken to the guys, they're putting a lot of effort into charity work."

The team has raised $10,000 for various charities, including the Make A Wish foundation, using exchange rate profits.

Joe said: "Even if the currency goes away overnight, it's done some good for the world.

"It's worth its weight already."

The Hitchin site manager only joined Twitter during the first coronavirus lockdown.

He started asking celebrities about their favourite cheeses in April 2020, when he asked Lord Sugar about his favourite dairy snack.

He has since become an ambassador for the Love Cheese Live festival in Stafford.

"I've tried dipping my toe out of my cheesy niche but it's just a dark place full of angry people shouting into the void," Joe added.

The Elon Musk-inspired cryptocurrency has a value against fiat currencies like the pound sterling.

Today (March 11), £1 is worth 1,115,244.95 stilton, according to CoinGecko.

The team which developed $STILTON has said that they want to make their cryptocurrency as well known as bitcoin.

"We started up Stilton because we are a group of developers and designers that are passionate about the power of community and the future of decentralised finance," a spokesperson said.

"We are having so much fun with all the creativity coming from both the community and the team, the trip to space is just the first of many big marketing stunts.

"Stilton Musk will become a household name!"

They added: "It's not cheap to put something into space but well worth it."

The Comet: Stilton Musk is named after Elon Musk, Tesla founder, and Stilton, his favourite cheeseStilton Musk is named after Elon Musk, Tesla founder, and Stilton, his favourite cheese (Image: PA Features Archive/Press Association Images)

A Sheffield-based firm called Send it to Space is organising the launch.

Dr Chris Rose has run the company for five years and has been tasked with sending the cheese to space.

"I have had to think about the structural integrity of the cheese," Dr Rose said.

"We do not want to compromise the cheese itself.

"We do not want to reinforce it with resin because when the cheese lands, you should in theory be able to take a bite out of it after it lands.

"Stilton is complicated because of the bacteria and the offgas."

The team will aim to photograph the cheese to a height more than 30km above Earth's surface, where temperatures are approximately -70 degrees Celsius.

Dr Rose said: "This probably takes 'the cheese' as being one of the more unusual projects."

The launch is due to take place next week, but the date, timing and location will rely on a number of factors, including the weather.