Today marks the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, in which astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step on the lunar surface. To celebrate, the Smithsonian Institute launched a Kickstarter.
What now? Indeed, the famed United States museum put up a crowdfunding campaign to try and raise enough money to conserve and digitize Armstrong's suit from the mission. While the suit should probably be on display in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, it's actually in climate-controlled storage due to its fragility.
The Kickstarter was launched to raise US$500,000 to fund the process of not only preserving the suit so it can be displayed and better resist years of deterioration, but also to create a digitized version of the suit using 3D scanning, photogrammetry, chemical analysis, and CT scanning, among other techniques.
The Smithsonian Institute is funded by the United States - so why does it need cash from the public? As the campaign notes, the federal funding only covers core museum functions and the operating budget, and a task like this falls outside those parameters. As such, public money is needed to ensure the suit lasts for generations to come.
Luckily, the campaign is going very well: it's about to pass US$100,000 as of this writing, with 29 days left to go. Backers can receive digital posters, 3D printing details, museum membership, private tours, and even Smithsonian flags that flew into space on Space Shuttle Discovery.
The Institute plans to have restoration process completed by the Moon landing's 50th anniversary in 2019, and it will go on display in a new exhibit in 2020.