Smithsonian ‘Kickstarts’ restoration of Armstrong spacesuit

Goal of “Reboot the Suit” campaign: To partner with Kickstarter to fund restoration of Neil Armstrong’s historic Apollo 11 moon-walk spacesuit.

Neil Armstrong 1969 space suit.
Neil Armstrong's 1969 "moon walk" spacesuit in line to be restored for 2019 50th Anniversary Apollo 11 celebration. (U.S. government photo, public domain)

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2015 – In a surprise development first announced Monday, July 20, the Smithsonian has kicked off its first-ever crowdfunding campaign geared toward their effort to restore Neil Armstrong’s historic Apollo 11 spacesuit—the one he wore when he became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, 1969.
Neil Armstrong took this famous 1969 photo of fellow space pioneer Buzz Aldrin planting American flag on the surface of the moon. (Public domain photo via NASA)

The date of the announcement was no coincidence. July 2015 marks the 46th anniversary of the successful, pioneering American breakthrough in space exploration.

Named “Reboot the Suit,” the museum’s crowdfunding campaign is currently being waged as part of a year-long partnership with Kickstarter via that organization’s widely used fundraising platform. The goal of the campaign: to raise some $500,000 to restore Armstrong’s historic suit, a complex task that will include everything that’s required to restore and preserve the suit, such as chemical analysis, repair, restoration, 3-D scanning and digitization of images and whatever else may be required to complete the job.

The museum’s goal: to have the suit fully restored and ready to be put on public display at the Smithsonian in time to mark the 50th anniversary of America’s historic scientific and exploration breakthrough in 2019.

Restoring Neil Armstrong space suit.
What needs to be done to restore Neil Armstrong space suit. (Image via Smithsonian-Kickstarter campaign)

Perhaps surprisingly, the Smithsonian is already well on the way to achieving its goal, having raised an estimated 86 percent of its target amount by Thursday.

According to a posting by Equity Net via ZeroHedge, “Supporters of the campaign are eligible to receive rewards for their tax deductible donations ranging from digital posters to tours of the Emil Buehler Conservation Lab at the [Smithsonian’s] Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA [at Dulles Airport] to see the suit in person.”

The campaign is part of a larger Kickstarter-supported effort to integrate crowdfunding with the museum’s other fundraising efforts. Although the Smithsonian is heavily supported by the Federal government via U.S. taxpayers, government funding still only covers about 62 percent of the organization’s annual budget.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17