The spacesuits hanging in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s Apollo 11 Moon landing exhibit? Replicas.
Not anymore if this new Kickstarter campaign works. The Smithsonian wants to “reboot the suit,” or restore and display Neil Armstrong’s original spacesuit that he wore on the moon in 1969. The plan is to get the rebooted suit on display to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019.
Armstrong’s suit is stored in a climate-controlled storage area that is not open to the public. As the Smithsonian explains via Kickstarter, “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.”
After the 50th anniversary celebration, Armstrong’s suit will remain on display permanently in the Smithsonian’s new exhibit, Destination Moon, which will open sometime around 2021.
This is the Smithsonian’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign. To date, they have nearly 4,500 backers who have pledged over $318,000 of their $500,000 goal, with 27 days to go.
Why is the Smithsonian on Kickstarter? The organization receives some federal dollars to support its operating budget and core functions, like building maintenance, but “projects like Reboot the Suit aren’t covered by our federal appropriations,” they explain on Kickstarter.
They’re offering some nice swag to support the campaign. Just $11 gets a hi-res digital poster suitable for framing, and $35 gets you the 3D scan data so you can print your own replica of the space glove Armstrong wore.