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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Do you want to see the short science-fiction film shot at the International Space Station?

International Space Station

So, in 2008, Ultima game designer and superrich guy Richard Garriott de Cayeux took a $30 million pleasure cruise to the International Space Station. He did a bunch of cool things while he was there, the most interesting of which may be that he shot an eight-minute science-fiction horror short starring himself, astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff, and cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov. But we only just learned this month that NASA had been holding back from letting the film be seen in public. From Space.com:

“Apogee of Fear” is the first science-fiction movie ever made in space, Garriott said, and he would like to let the public see it. There has been some demand, with the Smithsonian Institution even asking to put the film in its permanent archives because of its historical value.

But NASA hasn’t given the necessary go-ahead, according to Garriott.

“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 told SPACE.com Wednesday (Jan. 11).

Garriott’s not fighting mad about the movie’s current underground status, but he wants “Apogee of Fear” to come out. In an interview with SPACE.com at a conference last year, he said the film shows a more light-hearted side of astronauts and life aboard the space station, so it could serve as something of an education and outreach tool.

Asked to speculate about why NASA wouldn’t give permission to release the film, Garriott offered up a few ideas.

“It’s too playful,” he told SPACE.com. “It’s just not their message.”

He doesn’t think the space agency actively dislikes “Apogee of Fear” or wishes to suppress it. Rather, he believes NASA simply sees no reason to support it.

Apparently the publicity from that Space.com piece gave NASA the push it needed. From GeekDad at Wired late last week:

In response to a query to NASA on the subject, I received the following reply from Bob Jacobs, deputy for communications at NASA:

NASA is working with Richard Garriott to facilitate the video’s release. While the project was not part of his original Space Act agreement with NASA, everyone involved had the best of intentions. We hope to resolve the remaining issues expeditiously, and we appreciate Richard’s cooperation and his ongoing efforts to get people excited about the future of space exploration.

It sounds like NASA is leaving open the possibility of making some edits to the short film, but on the whole it reads like great news to me. The agency certainly seems to understand why it’s important that this kind of thing is released to the public, and the fact that the word “expeditiously” is in there bodes well for that happening soon.

I’m rather perplexed as to what issues NASA could have with the film. Do they think we don’t know that astronauts goof off sometimes? I’m not even sure why NASA would get to put the kibosh on the film’s release: it is the International Space Station, isn’t it? (Garriott flew up on Soyuz rockets, too, not on the space shuttle.) I’d imagine that whatever silliness may be depicted in the film, it cannot but help to be a net positive for NASA, and for general interest in space travel. I mean, it’s shot in zero gravity. In space.

Frankly, I don’t know why NASA isn’t actively courting someone like James Cameron or Ron Howard to shoot something in orbit.

Do you want to see the short science-fiction film shot at the International Space Station? Why do you think NASA had objected to the film?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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