I wrote last week about NASA eliminating public outreach from its budget until a funding solution can be reached with respect to the sequester, and I appealed to my fellow space enthusiasts to pick up the slack. It seems that some are going even farther than that. After a successful campaign on the crowd-sourcing site Indiegogo, aerospace trade group Aerospace Industries Association of America plans to run a 30-second advertisement for NASA in select theaters during the premiere of Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The ad, based on the embedded three-minute NASA video, is aimed at exciting the next generation of space enthusiasts. You might wonder why, other than its current budget situation, NASA doesn't just run the whole video itself. Due to federal law, the agency is prohibited from purchasing advertisements. But since works created by government agencies are generally in the public domain, others are free to step in on their behalf.
Now the idea of aerospace contractors collecting money on the internet to run a video basically advertising their services might seem laughable, but at this point any positive publicity for the space program can't really be turned away. Star Trek: Into Darkness is the sort of film that attracts broad public interest, making it a perfect venue for the video. If only a few young people are inspired to enter STEM fields due to the project, their money will have been well spent.