"Man on a Mission," a film documenting Richard Garriott's journey to the International Space Station (ISS) may have hit theaters, but there is another movie NASA apparently doesn't want you to see.
Yes, the space agency is currently censoring a second film shot by Garriott, who spent some $30 million of his own cash to be a tourist on board the station.
Dubbed "Apogee of Fear," the eight-minute amateur sci-fi clip tells the story of an alien entity hiding somewhere on the station. The unknown life form is detected by the ISS crew after oxygen consumption levels rise inexplicably.
Although the film is obviously little more than harmless fun, the space agency is adamantly refusing to allow the clip to go public - despite requests from prominent institutions like the Smithsonian.
"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. "It's too playful... It's just not their message."
Although Garriott says he is disappointed by NASA's decision, the video game designer emphasized that he doesn't believe the space agency actively dislikes "Apogee of Fear" or wishes to suppress it. Rather, says Garriot, NASA simply sees no logical reason to support it.
"It's just that the default answer is no," he added.
Personally, I’m not sure NASA is adopting the correct strategy here. Obviously Garriott’s film is a work of fiction trying to imagine a "what if?" scenario taking place in an actual location like the International Space Station.
IMHO, NASA needs to lighten up a little. Sci-fi has played a critical role in moving the space program forward by inspiring thousands of scientists and astronauts over the years. Seriously. A little more romanticism and a little less censorship would go a long way in restoring the public’s faith in NASA and our flagging space program.