Neil Armstrong’s moon-landing suit: Can crowdfunding save it?

20 Jul 2015

Neil Armstrong preparing for his Apollo 11 mission in 1969

It’s 46 years since Neil Armstrong sat in a spacecraft, flew up to the moon, went for a wander and came home a hero. Now his suit’s slow decline requires crowdfunding to save it.

Bidding to raise US$500,000 to help finance the conservation of the astronaut’s space attire, the Smithsonian Institute has launched the Kickstarter campaign today.

Today’s date is significant in that it is exactly 46 years to the day since Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took off and made history with the Apollo 11 mission.

For the Smithsonian’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign, it wants to conserve, “digitise”, and display the spacesuit in time for the 50-year anniversary in 2019.

“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,” reads the Kickstarter page.

The suit isn’t currently available for exhibition as it needs to be maintained in a very strict environment, far away from prying eyes.

Those on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington are substitutes, which isn’t really what those at the Smithsonian want.

To preserve the real suit, there’s an awful lot of meetings planned. The research going into ensuring everything is just right will take years.

Once that’s finished, 3D scanning, photogrammetry, chemical analysis and CT scanning will be done to create a “detailed map of the suit”, allowing a proper process to be undergone.

The ‘digitisating’ of the suit is so that we can all enjoy it, even those who can’t make it to Washington. The conservation means those that do make it there will see the real thing.

Neil Armstrong space suit on the moon

Images are courtesy of the NASA Project Apollo Archive

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic