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.
The spacesuit is in a state-of-the-art display case in the Wright Brothers gallery. The case replicates the conditions of our climate-controlled storage by controlling temperature, lighting, relative humidity, and ventilation. #Apollo11 #Apollo50 pic.twitter.com/l2Euz7pf61— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) July 16, 2019
The suit is on a custom mannequin, designed using Neil Armstrong’s actual measurements. It will allow air circulation through the mannequin system and slow down degradation. #Apollo11 #Apollo50 pic.twitter.com/8Zna4Rxk5L— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) July 16, 2019
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.
Can’t visit Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit in person for #Apollo50? Good news -- thanks to @3D_Digi_SI you can explore an ultra-realistic 3D model of the suit. Don’t forget to turn on the annotations to learn about the suit’s features: https://t.co/g1tyaJTNRp pic.twitter.com/QRPV3RhStz— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) July 16, 2019
You can even download a 3D print-ready model, so that you can print an Armstrong suit of your very own. The team at @3D_Digi_SI are so excited they already have theirs. Get the files: https://t.co/g1tyaJTNRp #Apollo50 pic.twitter.com/08aGviFJcX— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) July 16, 2019
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.