25Jul2015

Crowdfunding To Restore Neil Armstrong’s Lunar Spacesuit

Neil Armstrong

A Smithsonian museum is looking to crowdfunding to fund repairs to the space suit Neil Armstrong wore to the moon.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is trying to use a crowdfunding website to raise nearly $680,000 to restore the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore when he became the first man to walk on the moon.

The Reboot the Suit campaign was launched on Monday and has raised over $US125,000 ($170,000) of its $US500,000 ($678,000) goal. But, in line with crowdfunding website Kickstarter’s rules, the project has to be fully funded by August 19 before pledges are collected from all backers.

Last Monday marked the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and the Smithsonian hopes to have Armstrong’s white spacesuit and helmet ready for public viewing by the 50th anniversary in 2019.

It is the first time any Smithsonian museum has embraced crowdfunding to help cover the cost of preserving its most valuable artefacts from the ravages of time. The US government funds the upkeep of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries, as well as the cost of safeguarding their collections, but exhibitions and restorations depend largely on private donations.

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Depending on how much they put in, backers of the Kickstarter appeal will receive incentives ranging from a NASA space mission patch to a printed 3D copy of Armstrong’s space glove.The first ten donors who pledge $10,000 or more will be invited to see the moon suit at the Smithsonian’s aerospace conservation lab, where its restoration is taking place, as soon as this November.

The spacesuit is to be the first of several crowdfunding projects the Smithsonian plans to roll out this year under a partnership with Kickstarter, Smithsonian digital philanthropy director Yoonhyung Lee said.

“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,” she said in a statement.

(Eric Long/National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution via AP)

Armstrong died in his native Ohio three years ago next month at the age of 82, but the Apollo 11 capsule in which he and two fellow astronauts travelled to the moon endures as a centrepiece of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington.

The most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time raised more than $US20 million for Pebble, a Taiwan-made smart watch that went on sale this month, competing against the Apple Watch. AFP/ABC News

UPDATE:

The National Air and Space Museum has increased its goal for a crowdfunding campaign to conserve the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore on the moon and now hopes to raise $700,000. The on Kickstarter and met its initial $500,000 goal within five days. As of Saturday, the campaign raised about $525,000.

Now the museum hopes to raise more money to conserve Alan Shepard’s Mercury spacesuit. The museum aims to conserve, digitize and display Shepard’s suit. Shepard made the first American manned space flight in 1961. The Smithsonian has partnered with Kickstarter for a series of crowdfunding projects. The spacesuit effort is the first, and it will run for 24 more days.

Armstrong’s spacesuit will be displayed temporarily in 2019 and in a new exhibit planned for 2020.

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