It’s been 46 years since Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind.” The spacesuit that Armstrong wore when he became the first person to walk on the Moon is deteriorating, and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum needs your help to preserve it. A Kickstarter campaign – called Reboot the Suit – is raising funds to conserve the suit, digitize it with 3D printing and put it out on display.
“We want to preserve Armstrong’s spacesuit – and the story it tells of its incredible journey – down to the particles of lunar dust that cling to its surface,” the Smithsonian wrote on their Kickstarter page.
Armstrong’s iconic spacesuit is currently not accessible to the public. Instead, it’s being stored in a climate-controlled room at the Smithsonian. As their statement on Kickstarter notes, spacesuits are “fragile” and the Apollo suits were designed to take astronauts to the Moon, protect them in space and bring them back safely – not last for tens of years in a museum. This is why Armstrong’s spacesuit requires a great deal of conservation effort.
Image credit: Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian will first assess the condition of the spacesuit by using “state-of-the-art techniques in 3D scanning, photogrammetry, chemical analysis, CT scanning, and other means available.” They will then digitize the suit, creating 3D models so you can one day “make a 3D print of Armstrong’s glove and slip it over your hand.”
Armed with this information, conservators will be able to stabilize the deterioration and create the correct environment for the suit to be publicly displayed. The restoration is expected to take three to four years, after which time the Smithsonian plans to display it in a future exhibit titled “Destination Moon” for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, 2019.
The Kickstarter has a month to raise $500,000. There are a range of incentives for backers, including a high-resolution digital poster, the 3D scan data for the spacesuit glove and a mission patch by Mike Okuda.