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Smithsonian displays Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit for the first time in 13 years

The restored suit reappears for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit at the National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution

Those who want to see a piece of American history and space-fashion at the same time can head to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, where curators on Tuesday unveiled the spacesuit that famed astronaut Neil Armstrong wore for the Apollo 11 mission half a century ago. The public reappearance of the suit, refurbished after a 13-year hiatus, is part of the Smithsonian’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

The suit will remain on display near the 1903 Wright Flyer at the museum until a permanent exhibition is completed in 2022, per the museum. “The conservation of the suit included the creation of a detailed map through the imaging of X-rays, CT scanning and UV photography, as well as years of research,” the Smithsonian says in a release. “The museum conservators worked to stabilize the suit’s degradation while taking great care not to remove the remains of lunar dust embedded in the exterior fabric.” It’s now in a climate-controlled display case.

“A mannequin was created specifically for this suit, using Armstrong’s actual measurements, and designed to allow air circulation from the case through the mannequin system and into the suit,” the museum explains. “This advanced circulation system allows unwanted vapors, caused by the breakdown of the rubber in the suit, to be pulled away from the suit over time and slow down degradation.” A Kickstarter campaign, launched in 2015, helped support the spacesuit’s restoration with $500,000 collected from upwards of 9,000 donors in five days.

In addition, the museum is presenting a 3D model of the suit online thanks to digitization efforts, including “laser-arm scanning, structured light, photogrammetry and medical CT scanning.” Viewers can even download the model and have it printed through a 3D printer.

Also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this week is a projection of a 363-foot Saturn V rocket onto the east face of the Washington Monument, at nighttime. The projection runs through Saturday, including a special show on both Friday and Saturday.

National Air and Space Museum

600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20560 (202) 633-2214 Visit Website

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

600 Independence Avenue Southwest, , DC 20560 Visit Website