Video game designer Richard Garriott spent $30 million of his own money to book a stay on the International Space Station. It was an adventure chronicled in the recent documentary Man on a Mission, but that’s not the only film involving Garriott’s trip to outer space.
While aboard the Station, Garriott shot his own eight-minute short film, entitled Apogee of Fear, a micro-feature he’s dubbing the first sci-fi film actually shot in space. According to sources who’ve seen the movie, it’s a light and playful story that features the two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut as its stars. Sounds great – but there’s only one catch: NASA doesn’t want Garriot to release it.
“NASA has, so far, decided that since it's filmed onboard NASA hardware and uses NASA astronauts as actors, they have resisted me releasing it publicly," Garriott tells Space.com. “It's too playful. It's just not their message."
It seems almost counter-productive for NASA to oppose the film’s release. The agency is facing constant budget cuts and most Americans aren’t particularly jazzed about space exploration these days. What better way to get people excited about what NASA does than to show them a funny short film about what life is really like on a space station?
Garriott isn’t angry about the space agency’s decision to squash his little movie – but he’s hoping that perhaps he and others in the public can change their mind. Currently, the Smithsonian is seeking to procure a copy of Apogee of Fear to place in the permanent archive because they’re deeming it historically significant.
So far, only a few people have seen the film – which Garriott believes would serve as a great PR and outreach tool for space exploration, putting a human face on the astronauts and the program at large – but the Space Tourist hasn’t given up the fight. Let’s all hope NASA lightens up and finally gives their blessing to the film’s release – we can’t think of many things cooler than seeing an actual film shot in space.