The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum successfully raised the money needed to restore Neil Armstrong's spacesuit by using the popular crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter.
Last Monday, space enthusiasts celebrated the 46th anniversary of the first ever lunar mission, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landed and set foot on the surface of the moon. According to a report from the Washington Post, the Smithsonian Institution has a unique idea for commemorating the milestone mission.
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum revealed their first ever crowdfunding campaign last week. “Reboot the Suit,” launched on the popular website Kickstarter, has in just five days raised the $500,000 needed to conserve, digitize, and display Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit from the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
The Smithsonian has owned spacesuit since 1971 when NASA donated it, but the materials were beginning to age. It has since been hiding in storage to prevent further damage, until now.
The public has mixed feelings about the Smithsonian’s decision to use crowdfunding. Many space fans found it hard to believe that the museum couldn’t afford to conserve the artifact on their own.
Despite the criticism, there were more than enough people who wanted to see the historic spacesuit preserved. NASA is tragically underfunded, with only 0.5 percent of the federal budget devoted to funding space exploration.
Americans show strong support for the efforts of NASA, and the Kickstarter campaign could usher in a new era of opportunity for agencies interested in advancing space exploration. The potential for new missions and research is exciting to many, and this new democratic fundraising method could steer the course of space exploration in unexpected directions.