Neil Armstrong moon fund eclipses target in a few days

27 Jul 2015

The Smithsonian’s Kickstarter campaign to finance a new exhibition of the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore on the moon has proved a resounding success, breaking through the US$500,000 target in just a few days.

That total was to help fund the display of the suit in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, with the National Air and Space Museum in Washington planning a Destination Moon exhibit.

The money will pay for the restoration of the suit and a ‘digitisation’ of it, which is a 3D scan of the suit so people all around the world can enjoy it.

However, seeing as the public has blown that US$500,000 target out of the water just a quarter of the way through the campaign, the Smithsonian – which is partnering with the crowdfunding website on a number of projects – has set its sights higher.

Now seeking to hit US$700,000, the team wants to tell the story of Alan Shepard, the first American in space. The added money will help to digitise and present Shepard’s Mercury Suit, which he wore back in 1961.

Mercury Space suit

Alan Shepard’s Mercury Suit

It’s quite impressive that those behind the campaign had a ready-made plan for if and when the target was hit, although perhaps even they were surprised by the ease with which the money was pledged.

“Along with Armstrong’s suit, Shepard’s – and many other suits planned for display in the new gallery – will show the progression of spacesuit technology during the space race era,” reads the new goal.

At the moment, the suits are in a controlled environment, stored in a building owned by the Smithsonian. The federal funding the museum receives doesn’t cover restoration of spacesuits, it seems, thus the need to reach out.

At the time of writing, there was US$543,271 generated, with 22 days still to go, with people pledging around US$80 each on average. Expect another update pretty soon, I’d say.

Main image of Neil Armstrong aboard Apollo 11 via NASA

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic