Washington: The first moon landing in 1969 is mainly remembered as an exciting and important turning point in world history, which continues to inspire space exploration projects to Mars and beyond today.
However, the new study shows how NASA used images of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing to develop a narrative of its own importance for the future.
The academics claim NASA carefully selected footage to present Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts as pioneering "cowboys" supported by "technological efficiency".
NASA`s shots of the astronauts walking purposefully towards the launch bay - repeated regularly in TV coverage of the landing - were carefully crafted to mimic the slow walk of Cowboys in the cinematic tradition of Westerns, they argue.
The academics compare NASA`s claim to historical importance with organisations like Walt Disney Productions and Pan American World Airways .
They also note how often the images were repeated in media - which "premeditated" the idea that the moon landing represented the future.
They contrast this with people`s ideas today about how space travel actually progressed in the latter half of the 20th century - which saw only five further manned moon landings, ending in 1972.
The academics analysed more than 400 "memory cards" left by visitors to the National Space Centre - which contained people`s recollections of the moon landing and the 1960s.
They found around half of the visitors` accounts contained included a reference to the moon landing as a glimpse into a future which never came true.
The study has been published in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy.