"Grand Fenwick" Overtakes the U.S. and USSR

In spite of the launchings at the Cape, the development of the Launch Operations Center, the agreements between the Air Force and NASA, the preliminaries for the construction of launch complex 39 and the industrial area on Merritt Island, not all was ultraserious. The Spaceport News for 20 June 1963 carried this interesting headline: "The Duchy of 'Grand Fenwick' Takes Over the Space Race Lead." The article told of the premiere of a British movie, a space satire called Mouse on the Moon, at the Cape Colony Inn on the previous Friday. Distributed by United Artists, the movie was a sequel to the popular The Mouse That Roared of several years before.

The Mouse That Roared had centered around the attempt of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a mythical principality near the Swiss-French border, to wage an unsuccessful war against the United States in the hope that the United States would pour millions of dollars into the nation for rehabilitation. Surprisingly, the war turned out to be a huge success for the Grand Fenwick Expeditionary Force. It captured a professor at Columbia University, a native of Grand Fenwick, who had invented the "bomb to end all bombs." By threatening to use the bomb on all the major nations of the world, Grand Fenwick brought universal peace.

In the sequel, Mouse on the Moon, Grand Fenwick, faced again with a disaster in its main industry, wine-making, requested a half-million-dollar loan from the United States. Instead the United States granted a million dollars to further Grand Fenwick's space program and show America's sincere desire for international cooperation in space. Not to be outdone, Russia gave one of its outmoded Vostoks. The scientists of Grand Fenwick found that the errant wine crop could fuel this rocket. They sent the spacecraft to the moon, beating both the American and Russian teams. The U.S. and USSR spacecraft landed shortly after the Duchy's. In hasty attempts to get back first, both Russians and Americans failed to rise from the lunar surface. As a result, Grand Fenwick's Vostok had to rescue both crews.

The British stars, James Moran Sterling and Margaret Rutherford, came to Cocoa Beach for the world premiere, as did Gordon Cooper and his family, and many of the dignitaries of the Cape area. For a moment the tensions at the spaceport ceased, and the men caught up in the space race enjoyed a good laugh at their own expense.

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