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Kickstarter project launched to conserve Neil Armstrong's spacesuit

By Danielle Haynes
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Kickstarter project launched to conserve Neil Armstrong's spacesuit
The spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore during the Apollo 11 mission when he became the first man to step on the moon is housed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum launched a Kickstarter project to raise $500,000 to conserve, display and digitally scan the suit. Photo courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum

WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Exactly 46 years after astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon, the National Air and Space Museum launched a Kickstarter project to raise $500,000 to conserve his spacesuit.

Through Kickstarter, individuals, businesses and organizations can raise money in exchange for gifts. If the project doesn't raise all the required funds -- in this case, $500,000 -- none of the donors have to pay and the organization doesn't receive any money.

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The museum's project, started Monday, is one of a series of crowdfunding projects the Smithsonian has planned over the next year.

Funds collected in support of the Armstrong suit project -- dubbed #RebootTheSuit -- will go toward conserving the spacesuit and displaying it at the museum for the first time since 2006. The money will also provide a special climate-controlled display case and a three-dimensional digital scan of the suit.

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"Through Kickstarter, we are reaching global audiences with the ability to make amazing projects come to life," said Yoonhyung Lee, director of digital philanthropy at the Smithsonian. "The public will have the chance to directly contribute to specific Smithsonian projects and follow the creative process from fundraising through completion, regardless of their level of support."

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Kickstarter projects allow organizations to give donors gifts based on varying levels of support. The lowest pledge level of $1 entitles the donor to a thank-you email and project updates. The highest level -- $10,000 -- grants the donor a chance to see the spacesuit in person at the Emil Buehler Conservation Lab at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. The donor also gets recognition on the museum's annual donor wall and a National Air and Space Society membership.

Ultimately, museum officials hope to make the suit the centerpiece of the future Destination Moon gallery, which is scheduled to open in 2020. In the meantime, Armstrong's spacesuit is scheduled to go on temporary display to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in July 2019.

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On July 20, 1969, at precisely 10:56 p.m. EDT, Armstrong became the first human being to put his foot down upon the moon. This took place about 6 1/2 hours after he and fellow astronaut Edward "Buzz" Aldrin landed the Eagle on the lunar surface.

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"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong said as his foot touched the lunar soil. He described it as looking and feeling like powdered charcoal.

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Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon's surface at 11:16 p.m. EDT.

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"Magnificent desolation," were Aldrin's first words.

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