The public image of NASA isn’t what it once was. In my youth the department was a beacon of scientific hope, but budget cuts and a waning interest in space exploration have helped NASA wither to a shadow of its former self. This year saw the end of the agency’s space shuttle program. But that doesn’t mean the outfit is ready to be associated with any old claptrap. And so, below, we have an official statement from NASA that distances the group from the ‘found footage’ thriller Apollo 18.

Bert Ulrich, NASA media liason, told the LA Times,

Apollo 18 is not a documentary. The film is a work of fiction, and we always knew that. We were minimally involved with this picture. We never even saw a rough cut. The idea of portraying the Apollo 18 mission as authentic is simply a marketing ploy. Perhaps a bit of a ‘Blair Witch Project’ strategy to generate hype.

In other words, NASA was willing to work with the producers until they realized that Apollo 18 was a quickie cash grab, at which point they were happy to back away. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, certainly no better a PR builder for NASA, remains OK, however.

In case you haven’t been bombarded with enough Apollo 18 content in advance of the film’s opening this weekend, here’s the third trailer, which arrived earlier this week via the Huffington Post.

Decades-old found footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the real reason the US has never returned to the moon.

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