A MANNED mission to Swindon touched down successfully last night near the town's factory outlet village.
The four crew of the NASA space shuttle will spend the next three days exploring the Wiltshire town before returning to Earth on Sunday.
The astronauts will take mineral samples from the Brunel Shopping Arcade and could take their specially-built Swindon buggy as far as the Oasis Leisure Centre, where they will test the water in the swimming pool for intelligent micro-organisms and possibly have a go on the slides.
A NASA spokesman: "I'd be lying if I said cutbacks were not a factor.
"One of the crew has a cousin in Swindon. He's called Ray, he's really nice and he has a biggish spare room where the astronauts can all stay in exchange for a few sachets of our freeze dried ice cream."
In his first message from the Wiltshire surface, mission commander Colonel Todd Logan said: "It's a very alien environment. They've still got a Wimpy and we've see one local inhabitant with the word 'wankpig' tattooed on his forehead."
But Logan's deputy Captain Zoe Armstrong told mission controllers in Houston: "The others are really into it, they're all deliberately walking funny like the gravity's different and they've got their helmets on and everything.”
She added: "When I signed up for manned missions I was hoping for the International Space Station, or even Mars. I did not expect to be emptying the catheter on my space suit in the customer toilet at Homebase."
Meanwhile conspiracy theorists are already dismissing the Swindon landing as a fake.
Martin Davies, editor of paranoia.com, said: "All the scientific evidence tells us that you cannot travel to Swindon without dying horribly from radiation poisoning.
"And anyway, if you look at the way the shadows are falling at different angles it becomes really obvious that it's Chippenham, or possibly Devises."