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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Okay, the U.S. space shuttle may be going into retirement but it's not likely to be forgotten, at least not if Hollywood has anything to do with it. Over the course of the last 30 years, the shuttle has shown up repeatedly on screen.

(Soundbite of music)

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

James Bond tracks down the villains behind a stolen space shuttle in 1979's "Moonraker." Then there's the '80s classic, "Space Camp," featuring a group of students who are accidentally launched into space.

(Soundbite of movie, "Space Camp")

Unidentified Woman: Go for launch - now.

Unidentified Man: Light it.

(Soundbite of a blastoff)

KELLY: Here's their teacher, played by Kate Capshaw.

(Soundbite of movie, "Space Camp")

Ms. KATE CAPSHAW (Actor): (as Andie Bergstrom) Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think we've achieved orbit.

INSKEEP: And then who could forget this hit from 1998 - "Armageddon?"

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: You know, where Billy Bob Thornton plays a NASA scientist. Who helps a team of oil drillers save the world from an asteroid?

(Soundbite of music, "Armageddon")

Mr. BILLY BOB THORNTON (Actor): (as Dan Truman) Okay, gentlemen, you're our warriors up there. God be with you. You're already heroes, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

KELLY: Okay, so maybe the plot lines are just a touch unrealistic. Case in point - the most recent "Transformers" movie.

Mr. BERT ULRICH (Multimedia Liaison, NASA): There's so much science that's not correct on that, because it's completely fictitious with robotics. But it's very, very exciting, and it tells a wonderful story. And it's a wonderful way to reach people about the excitement of space exploration.

KELLY: That's Bert Ulrich. His job at NASA is to connect movie producers with NASA astronauts and engineers.

Mr. ULRICH: We just want to reach out and sort of share the NASA story as much as we possibly can.

INSKEEP: Ulrich is also the guy who gives the agency's stamp of approval. And he's often on set when big productions are filming at NASA locations.

But not every project passes NASA's test.

Mr. ULRICH: Well there've been certain instances where we'd get a script and it's just so not true, that we would have to say, you know what - we probably can't do this one.

KELLY: That's not the case for the upcoming "Men in Black 3", which is currently shooting at the Kennedy Space Center.

We don't know what's next for NASA. But Bert Ulrich thinks space will continue to capture the imaginations of moviegoers.

(Soundbite of music)

KELLY: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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