"Buzz" Aldrin Jr. standing on the Moon, Source: NASA
Today is the 46th anniversary of the day humans first walked on the Moon. The Smithsonian Museum used the event to launch an ambitious project to save an important piece of history: Neil Armstrong's spacesuit.

On July 21, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Apollo 11 spacecraft and became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface. On July 20, 2015, the Smithsonian announced a Kickstarter campaign called Reboot the Suit. Right now, all the spacesuits used in NASA missions are being stored in a climate-controlled storage area, away from the public. And they're not doing too well. As the Smithsonian explained, "You may be surprised to learn that spacesuits are among the most fragile artifacts in the Museum’s collection. The Apollo suits were made to take astronauts to the Moon and back safely -- not to last hundreds of years in a museum."

The Smithsonian wants to save the suit. Not just save it, but make it the classic piece of history that it deserves, and even make it better. They want to carefully preserve it, right down to the lunar dust still clinging to its surface. Here's an infographic of some of the work they want to do, courtesy of the Smithsonian:
Source: Smithsonian
But in the process, they also want to move it to a special case so it can be preserved indefinitely and put it on display for the public. Not only that, they plan to digitize it using advanced 3D and CT scanning. That would allow them to preserve it as a three-dimensional digital replica, which would be used as a baseline to maintain it, and also be available for anyone to view online. Special backers would even get the data to create a 3D-printed copy of Armstrong's glove.

The museum gets federal funding to maintain its collection, but not for a project like this. They need $500,000 to start and complete the project in time for the fiftieth anniversary in 2019. Here's the plan: "The suit will be put on display at the Museum in Washington, DC, in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in 2019. The suit will eventually be permanently displayed as a centerpiece in the future Destination Moon exhibition, a completely redesigned and updated gallery that will bring the exciting story of lunar exploration to a new generation. In addition to the Armstrong spacesuit, Destination Moon will feature several other significant artifacts, including a huge Moon mural painted by the famous space artist Chesley Bonestell in 1957, the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule in which Alan Shepard became the first American in space, the Gemini 7 spacecraft, the giant F-1 rocket engine, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, parts of the Apollo Mission Simulator, and many small artifacts. The exhibition will also display the Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft currently hanging elsewhere in the Museum, and at least one other robotic spacecraft from a more recent mission."
Artist's rendering of Destination Moon 2019; Source: Smithsonian
Sounds pretty cool, huh? They're offering some sweet rewards for backers, including a "Reboot the Suit" cling-on to stick on your car window, a mission patch designed by Star Trek's graphic designer Michael Okuda, a "Reboot the Suit" poster to hang on your bedroom wall next to your poster of Princess Leia, membership in the National Air and Space Society (which includes a subscription to Air and Space Magazine), and behind-the-scenes experiences at the Museum.

Click here to go to the Kickstarter page. Even a dollar would make a difference towards a goal that would make geeks a part of history.

What do you think of the project? Would you contribute?

[Via CNN]

About the Author - Nigel G. Mitchell earned a Bachelor's in English from Arizona State University in 1999. In addition to writing for The Geek Twins, his short stories have been published in Lost Worlds, 365 Tomorrows, and Black Hole Magazine. His latest novel is Seizure.

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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Reboot the Suit - quite the slogan. And created by a Star Trek designer. Nice.
Hopefully they can raise the money, because that is a major piece of history.

Pat Dilloway said...

They just need a corporate sponsor.


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