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NASA close to approving first sci-fi flick shot in space

ISS space tourist shoots schlock horror short

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The first science fiction film shot in orbit could be coming to terrestrial viewers, now that NASA has confirmed it's almost ready to give approval for the project.

Apogee of Fear was shot by space tourist Richard Garriott during his 2008 sojourn on the International Space Station (ISS). Garriott shot the basic footage for the film, using astronauts as his cast, and then added scenes and effects after his return to Earth. The film, privately shown at Dragon*Con last year, has been in legal limbo because it wasn’t included in Garriott’s deal with NASA.

"NASA is working with Richard Garriott to facilitate the video's release,” Bob Jacobs, deputy for communications at NASA, told The Register in an email. “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."

Millionaire game developer Garriott – aka Lord British in Ultima and General British in Tabula Rasa – shot the film during his 10-day tourist jaunt up to the ISS, while performing his other orbital duties. Without giving too much of the plot away, it involves a mysterious passenger who sneaks aboard the ISS for their own reasons, and it contains knowing nods to many of the greats of the science fiction genre. An audience's-heads-in-frame bootleg can be seen here.

Garriott, the son of a US astronaut who did a tour of duty on SkyLab back in the 1970s, and the second British astronaut to make it into orbit, shot the film to a script from noted fantasy author Tracy Hickman. Two US astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut have supporting roles. If NASA resolves the contractual issues, the film could be released as either a short, or as part of other films Garriott has made about space history.

Garriott is one of two second-generation astronauts: the other is cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, whose father Aleksandr was stuck on the Mir space station when the Soviet Union dissolved. Garriott also owns the Lunokhod 2 rover that surveyed the Moon in 1973 for around six months before breaking down.

And, yes, Garriott's Lunokhod 2 is still on the moon. ®

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