The Smithsonian has restored the space suit Neil Armstrong wore during the Moon landing.
This space suit was worn by astronaut Neil Armstrong, Commander of the Apollo 11 mission, which landed the first man on the Moon on July 20, 1969. It was conserved thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015 to conserve, digitize and display the suit in time for the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. Photo by Jim Preston. Courtesy the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. © Smithsonian Institution.
After more than a decade of restoration, the space suit that Neil Armstrong wore during the Moon landing is finally back on view at the National Air and Space Museum—and right in time for the 50th anniversary of the historic space odyssey.
A story in the Wall Street Journal details the saga of the suit, which was made in the 1960s for the astronaut and composed of what were then state-of-the-art synthetic fibers. After Armstrong wore it for a total of roughly 12 hours during the journey, including when he stepped foot on the moon and when Apollo 11 splash-landed in the Pacific Ocean, it was decontaminated by NASA, taken on national tour, and then brought to the beloved aeronautical institution on the National Mall.
Thirteen years ago, signs of wear and tear appeared—which is to be expected of a suit made half a century ago. As an engineer at ILC Industries, the Delaware firm that built the suit, told the WSJ:
Our engineers back in the 1960s didn’t give a hoot what would happen to these suits years later. [. . .] They just wanted to make sure we could preserve the lives of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
The restored suit was unveiled at the National Air and Space Museum on Tuesday, and the 50th anniversary of Armstrong’s iconic moonwalk is Saturday, July 20. The conservators said they hope the exhaustive rehabilitation process will keep the historic national icon intact for another 50 years.