Earlier this month, the Smithsonian Institute launched a Kickstarter campaign called ‘Reboot the Suit.’ Its goal? To raise $500,000 to conserve, digitize and display Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. The Smithsonian Institute eclipsed their goal in under a week.
$534,341 has been raised as I write with more than 23 days to go.
Before I dive into why the Smithsonian turned to the public, let’s talk about the suit.
Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit is currently being stored in a climate-controlled storage area that the public can’t see. The spacesuit isn’t even 50 years old, yet it’s one of the Museum’s most fragile artifacts.
The Smithsonian Institute released an image along with their Kickstarter that shows the work that needs to be done to the spacesuit.
It’s a question some folks are asking. Isn’t the Smithsonian Institute funded by the government? It is, but not fully. For the fiscal year 2015, the Smithsonian’s budget stands at $1.379 billion. $820 million comes from the government. $559 million comes from Trust Fund sources. This includes private donations.
And really, that’s all the Kickstarter campaign is. It’s private donations on a larger scale. Plus, backers receive goodies depending on how much they pledge.
The general public loves space exploration. Just look at how popular the New Horizons mission is. And many are willing to pitch in to help save one of the most significant space artifacts.
The Smithsonian Institute writes:
Kickstarter gives a wide audience the chance to be a part of this project. We’re inviting you to go behind the scenes and be a part of the process – from fundraising through conservation to display. All backers will receive regular updates on the process and can follow along each step of the way.
In a perfect world, the Smithsonian Institute would have plenty of money and NASA’s budget wouldn’t sit at a dismal 0.5% of the federal budget.
In July 2019, NASA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The successful Kickstarter campaign means the Smithsonian Institute will be able to conserve and display Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit in time for the celebration.
With the overwhelming support from you, the Smithsonian isn’t stopping with just Armstrong’s suit. A stretch goal has been announced for $700,000. If reached, the Smithsonian plans to do the same work on Alan Shepard’s spacesuit. Shepard was the first American to fly into space in 1961.
The goal for this Kickstarter is to share a piece of one of humankind’s greatest achievements with the world. Neil Armstrong’s suit was going to be cared for without the $500,000. But, everyone’s contribution now makes it possible for the Smithsonian to get Armstrong’s spacesuit in a condition where it can be displayed without damaging it.
Now let’s hit $700,000 and get Shepard’s spacesuit right beside Armstrong’s.