Letting the public fund space missions directly is a possibility NASA's chief engineer, Brian Muirhead, is discussing. "We'd love to have the public involved, the public support. The problem is we still have to work through Congress," he said. There's precedent for a crowdfunding effort at the space agency: Earlier this year it raised $52,000 on Indiegogo to promote its efforts on a movie trailer. "Campaigns like this one demonstrate that the average American is actually quite passionate about the space program," says Dan Hendrickson, director of space systems of the Aerospace Industries Association.

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