Smithsonian Starts Kickstarter to Save Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 Suit

Spacesuit could debut in 2019 as cornerstone of exhibit celebrating moon landing's 50th anniversary

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin raise the American Flag on the Moon Credit: NASA/Getty

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has launched a Kickstarter to preserve and digitize the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore when he stepped on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission 46 years ago.

With 28 days to go, the "Reboot the Suit" campaign has already raised over $225,000 out of its $500,000 goal.

Despite displays commemorating the moon landing and other Apollo missions at the Air and Space museum, Armstrong's spacesuit has long been stored in a climate-controlled facility for its protection. Per a video on the Kickstarter page, the technology now exists to revitalize the suit, digitize it — à la other 3D models of iconic Smithsonian objects — and put it safely on display.

Should the Smithsonian reach its goal, the rebooted suit will debut as the cornerstone of a special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in 2019. It will remain on display in the Air and Space museum's upcoming Destination Moon exhibit, alongside other artifacts like Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 Mercury capsule and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia.

Of course, a Kickstarter campaign is nothing without rewards: While $1 will garner a "One Small Step" thank you e-mail and $11 a high-resolution, printable poster of the suit, $55 donors will receive an exclusive mission patch by Mike Okuda, a designer for Star Trek and NASA. For $542, backers will be invited to the "Museum Moonshine" astronomy program and pre-event party on September 27th where, yes, moonshine will be served. And for $10,000, donors will get the chance to see Armstrong's suit during an exclusive tour of the facility where it is being kept.

While the Smithsonian does receive federal funding to cover its operating budget and building operations, projects like "Reboot the Suit" are funded primarily through donations. The Smithsonian plans to launch several more crowdfunded projects on Kickstarter throughout the next year.

While Armstrong died in 2012 at 82, his Apollo 11 comrade, Buzz Aldrin, remains a vocal proponent of NASA and continued space exploration. In marking Monday's 46th anniversary of the moon landing, Aldrin tweeted, "When kids ask me what it felt like to walk on the moon I say 'squishy'! They are #GenerationMars."