As a federal agency, NASA can’t run commercials — a problem both for rallying broader public support and fostering the next generation of astronauts. The Aerospace Industries Association has both cultural and very practical reasons for improving that public awareness, so it’s taking the unusual step of crowdfunding an ad purchase to get the American space program in front of as many eyes as possible. The project would cut a 30-second version of NASA’s We Are the Explorers promo (after the break), minus the administration’s official endorsement, and run it in at least 50 major movie theaters for eight weeks following the launch of Star Trek Into Darkness on May 17th. The crowdfunding is ostensibly to demonstrate our collective love of space, and would directly translate any money raised beyond the $33,000 goal into ads for more theaters. A cynical industry move? Maybe — but we won’t build starships without a public that’s interested in seeing them beyond movie screens, which makes the ad a noble enough cause in our minds.