Crowdfunding raises $720,000 to restore Neil Armstrong spacesuit
A total of 9,477 people contributed to the month-long Kickstarter "Reboot the Suit" campaign, which surpassed its $500,000 goal on July 24.
The windfall means the Smithsonian will have money to spare to preserve and display a second spacesuit used by Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
"It is mind-blowing," Yoonhyung Lee, the Smithsonian's director of digital philanthropy, told AFP in an interview at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in downtown Washington.
"We did not really expect to both hit our goal so quickly and also to exceed our goal so dramatically. This was a huge triumph for us."
It was the first time the Smithsonian has turned to crowdfunding to help cover the cost of preserving its most valuable artifacts from the ravages of time. The campaign lifted off on July 20, the 46th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing. Its conclusion coincided with National Aviation Day.
With cash in hand, the Smithsonian is now aiming to have Armstrong's white spacesuit and helmet ready for public viewing by the 50th anniversary in 2019.
"The suit is pretty fragile. It's reaching about its 50-year lifespan right now. A lot of its materials were made for temporary use — to get to the moon and back," Lisa Young, the Smithsonian curator tasked with overseeing its three-year restoration project, told AFP. ■