British game developer Richard Garriott went to space on October 2008. He took a camera with him and filmed a little short called Apogee of Fear starring him, two American astronauts, one cosmonaut and his mum. Updated: NASA backtracks.
Garriott took a video camera to his trip, which launched from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan on October 12, 2008, after reportedly paying $US30 million to the Russians. His Soyuz spaceship docked with the station on October 14 and returned to Earth 10 days later, along with cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, from ISS Expedition 17.
During all that time, Garriott filmed several segments of video. Some of them were used in Man On a Mission, a documentary of his personal quest to reach space that is now reaching the movie theatres.
But he also filmed other sequences for a short fiction film called Apogee of Fear, the first fiction movie to be recorded in space. The film is not a horror movie in space, but a humorous piece. In it, the three inhabitants of a space station — astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitof and cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov — detect that too much air is being consumed. Days before this, Garriott had allegedly abandoned the space station in a Soyuz.
The only answer — apart from aliens — is that someone else is in the station. Eventually, they discover that Garriott never left the station and, at the end, a second stowaway appears: Garriott’s mum (who obviously was filmed on Earth).
It’s a rather inoffensive movie, but NASA has blocked it. Talking to Space.com, Garriott says that the movie “is too playful. It’s just not their message.” NASA argues that, since it includes two astronauts and was filmed onboard NASA hardware, they can block its release. Garriott has complied with NASA’s request.
Unlike Garriott, I really don’t get the point of NASA censoring this. If anything, they just turned a obscure nerdy news into a mass media news piece that will likely spread across the internet and international newspapers and TV channels. [YouTube]
Update: NASA has backtracked and they are now working with Garriott to release the short film, according to Wired.