Earlier this month, NASA released a video entitled, "We Are The Explorers," a moving montage of the space agency's achievements over the years with an eye toward the future. "Everything we have accomplished leads us to this moment in time, where exploration will take us to the planets and the stars," narrates the throaty Peter Cullen of Optimus Prime fame. It looked and sounded like the kind of emotional trailer you might see in a theater before the feature film. Now, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, a version may actually premier in theaters in May.

As a government agency, NASA can't buy advertising for itself

The Aerospace Industries Association, a private, industry group that supplies NASA, hopes to raise $33,000 to place an edited version of the spot in more than 50 movie theaters for eight weeks, starting with Star Trek: Into Darkness. "You can show our students and young people that we're in an exciting new era of space exploration," reads the pitch for the campaign, which is hosted on Indiegogo.

As a government agency, NASA can't buy advertising for itself. However, the agency has been making an effort to reach out directly to space fans through the internet, with an emphasis on social media. That outreach, which includes cheeky Twitter accounts and goofy videos, has occasionally made NASA look a little desperate to please — especially as its budget is chipped away by politicians and its relevance challenged. But as AIA's crowdfunding campaign shows, ordinary citizens and the private sector are increasingly stepping in to bolster the agency. And if the motivational "We Are The Explorers" doesn't get audiences pumped for space, maybe the action-packed Star Trek will.