We know the space program's been slow lately, but we never expected the people at NASA to be so bored that they'd take time out of their day to look at someone's sci-fi short film and say "Nah, that's not going out." But wait, how does NASA have the ability to block a movie's release, and why would they care in the first place?
Well, because it was filmed on their space station.
The short is called Apogee of Fear, and it was shot on board the International Space Station by millionaire videogame designer and space tourist Richard Garriott, who spent $300 million of his own cash to fly to the ISS in October 2008. Last week marked the release of Man on a Mission, a documentary chronicling Garriott's flight, but his other flick is still in the dark because NASA won't sign off on publicly screening it.
Why? Well, because NASA essentially paid for the sets, the production design and the cast.
"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.
The film stars astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov, who all discover that there's an unexplained increase in oxygen use onboard the ISS and realize that an alien life form is the only explanation. Garriott has shown the film privately, but he can't show it publicly until NASA gives permission, and so far they've been unwilling to let Apogee of Fear out.
But Garriott's not getting mad just yet. He sees what's happened so far as the "default" reaction for NASA. After all, this is the first time someone's shot a fiction-based film in outer space.
"It's just that the default answer is no," Garriott said.
With any luck, NASA will eventually cave and Garriott will get to release his opus to the world. Then we get to find out which is scarier: an alien onboard the ISS or astronauts trying to act.