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The summer movie-going season has generally been the preserve of action-packed thrillers and buddy movies. This year promises us something a little different: Gonzalo López Gallego’s Apollo 18, a “mockumentary” centered around the premise of the secret mission known as Apollo 18, launched in December 1974 and forever lost on the lunar surface for reasons unknown. Unknown, that is, until “found footage of the lunar mission” emerges to set the record straight, in the tradition of the Blair Witch Project and other found footage cinematic excursions.

Secret lunar missions form part and parcel of UFO fringe theory and conspiracy theory. The haste with which NASA halted its lunar project (although one needs only examine the financial / political atmosphere of the early 1970s to find no mystery) has always excited the imagination of anyone with a passing interest in the space programs. There were other missions that used Apollo program hardware, to be sure: the three capsules employed in the Skylab missions (1973-1974) and the one employed for the Apollo-Soyuz linkup in 1975. Apollo 18, 19 and 20 – which would have explored some fascinating lunar features, such as the crater Tycho, one of our satellite’s most prominent landmarks.

Lost amid 1994's media swirl of Bosnia, Rwanda, and the O.J. Simpson trial was a small item signaling the return of the United States' space program to the Moon--a new age in lunar exploration kicked off by a small disposable satellite dubbed "Clementine", allegedly a spin-off from the supposedly inactive Space Defense Initiative (SDI).

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