When you think of crowdfunding projects like those found on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you tend to think of the future: New technologies, innovative designs and novel products that haven’t been done before. What you don’t think of are things that are nearly 50 years old, especially not 50 year-old spacesuits. But that’s exactly what’s happening with “Reboot the Suit,” a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institute and Kickstarter to preserve the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong:
The Kickstarter campaign launched Monday, on the 46th anniversary of Armstrong’s moon walk in 1969. Though sturdy enough to protect Armstrong on the moon, the spacesuit is in disrepair and hasn’t been on display to the public since 2006. The Smithsonian intends to raise $500,000 with the campaign, which is set to run for 30 days.
With the money, conservationists hope to physically preserve the suit, as well as construct a climate-controlled display case. They also want to digitize the spacesuit with 3D scanning, which is valuable from both a preservation and marketing angle: Depending on how much backers contribute to the campaign, they’ll receive anything from a scanned image of the suit to an actual 3D printed replica of one of Armstrong’s gloves.
If everything goes according to plan, the suit will be ready for display in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019, as well as Smithsonian’s “Destination Moon” gallery in 2020. As for why it takes so long, Smithsonian says that this conservation effort will essentially become the standard by which historical garments and artifacts are preserved in the future.
“The research and documentation we do now will literally write the book on the proper techniques for spacesuit conservation for every suit in our collection. Along the way, we’ll be consulting with those who contributed to making the suit and its materials, those who cared for it during the Apollo program, and materials experts throughout the world. Research, meetings, and mastering new techniques take time,” they wrote on the Kickstarter page.
Among the necessary repairs include stains, tears and even embedded lunar dust that conservators hope to stabilize and preserve. Along with Armstrong’s Apollo 11 suit, the Destination Moon exhibit will feature other artifacts from lunar missions, including the Gemini 7 spacecraft, the giant F-1 rocket engine, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, parts of the Apollo Mission Simulator.