Marking 46 years since the 1969 moon landing, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has launched a crowdsourcing project that would help to conserve and digitize the famous Apollo 11 spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore when he first set foot on the moon in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing.
In a blog published today, the museum stated “Today is a rather big day for the Museum. Not only are we celebrating the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, but we are also celebrating the launch of something quite new. Today, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has embarked on its very first project through Kickstarter, a global platform that helps bring creative projects to life.”
“The Apollo 11 Moon landing was one of the single greatest achievements in the history of humankind. Bringing Armstrong’s spacesuit back not only helps honor the accomplishments of a generation who brought us from Earth to the Moon in less than nine years, it also inspires the next generation of bold space explorers. The suit is a part of our cultural heritage, and safeguarding it recognizes its importance in telling the story of a remarkable accomplishment. And, because it is the real thing, seeing the suit provides a tangible way of touching history,” the Institution explains on Kickstarter.
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According to the Reboot the Suit campaign page, “Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit — like most of the spacesuits in the Museum’s collection — is currently being stored in a climate-controlled collections storage area that is not accessible to the public. You may be surprised to learn that spacesuits are among the most fragile artifacts in the Museum’s collection. The Apollo suits were made to take astronauts to the Moon and back safely — not to last hundreds of years in a museum. To provide public display and access, Armstrong’s spacesuit requires conservation to stop current deterioration and a state-of-the-art display case that will mimic the climate-controlled environment where it is currently being safeguarded.”
The project’s budget includes
- costs for research, materials and tools for conservation work
- construction of a custom-built mannequin to support the suit
- a state-of-the-art display case
- 3-D scanning and production of an online 3-D model
- a webcast educational program: STEM in 30
- a publication on the suit, history and conservation of spacesuit materials
“We are going to carefully document the suit through photographic, chemical and historical research in a more detailed way than we have ever been able to do before. We plan to use state-of-the-art techniques in 3-D scanning, photogrammetry, chemical analysis, CT scanning, and other means available to create a detailed map of the suit that will document its condition in the most complete way possible. We will supplement this information with detailed historical research on how the suit and its components were made, used during the mission and handled after flight. This research will inform a condition assessment that will help us create the appropriate atmosphere environment for public display while preserving the suit in its current condition,” said curator Cathy Lewis.
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The 3-D scan will allow the public to take a self-guided tour, exploring the functions of each of the suit’s 21 layers. The museum’s plan is to display the spacesuit for the 50th anniversary of Armstrong’s moonwalk. This would be the first time the suit is displayed publicly since 2006. Later, the suit would become a centerpiece in a new ‘Destination Moon,’ gallery projected to open in 2020.
In addition to the Armstrong spacesuit, Destination Moon will feature several other significant artifacts, including a huge Moon mural painted by the famous space artist Chesley Bonestell in 1957, as well as the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule in which Alan Shepard became the first American in space, the Gemini 7 spacecraft and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia.
Backers of the project will receive rewards, ranging from items such as a Neil Armstrong Spacesuit mission patch or 3-D print of his glove, to a behind-the-scenes experience at the museum or the opportunity to meet an astronaut.
“It’s a privilege to be working with the Smithsonian to get important projects like this out into the world,” said Yancey Strickler, CEO and cofounder of Kickstarter. “This is the first time we’ve teamed up with a museum in this way. We are enormous admirers of the Smithsonian, and we’re thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with them and to invite new audiences to be a part of their work. I can’t wait to back this project!”
Kickstarter has enabled more than 88,000 projects to be funded since it began in 2009. Through the Smithsonian’s partnership, a series of crowdfunded projects will launch on Kickstarter throughout the next year. During this pilot year, the focus will be on artifacts, exhibitions and projects that need funding, giving the public a variety of opportunities to support the Smithsonian based on their own interests.
Kickstarter adheres to an all-or-nothing method. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. If the project falls short, no one is charged.
- Smithsonian Reboot the Suit video: Calling all citizens of Earth…
- Smithsonian X 3D video Overview
- Social media: Follow the campaign and project with #RebootTheSuit
The Reboot the Suit campaign has so far raised $56,455. To lend you support, click here.