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Smithsonian crowdfunding to save Neil Armstrong's spacesuit

The National Air and Space Museum is launching a crowdfunding campaign to conserve the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore on the moon.

The campaign begins Monday, marking 46 years since Armstrong's moonwalk in 1969. Conservators say spacesuits were built for short-term use with materials that break down over time. They called them "among the most fragile artifacts in the museum's collection."

The museum aims to raise $500,000 on Kickstarter to conserve the spacesuit, build a climate-controlled display case and digitize the spacesuit with 3D scanning.

The Smithsonian formed a partnership with Kickstarter for a series of crowdfunded projects. The spacesuit is the first. On the Kickstarter page, the museum explained that it gets funding from the federal government for operations, but that projects like this, which it's calling "Reboot the Suit," aren't covered by appropriations.

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Illustration from the museum's Kickstarter page shows some of the tasks conservators hope to accomplish Smithsonian Institution/Kickstarter

Armstrong's spacesuit is deteriorating and hasn't been displayed since 2006. The museum plans to display it for the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's moonwalk. Later, the suit will be a centerpiece in "Destination Moon," a gallery opening in 2020.

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