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Smithsonian Increases Goal For Spacesuit Crowdfunding Effort 106

An anonymous reader writes: The recently launched Kickstarter campaign by the Smithsonian to preserve Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit has surpassed its goal. As of Saturday, the campaign raised about $525,000, and now The National Air and Space Museum has increased its goal to $700,000 in order to save Alan Shepard's Mercury spacesuit.
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Smithsonian Increases Goal For Spacesuit Crowdfunding Effort

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  • I like this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday July 26, 2015 @11:38PM (#50187517) Homepage
    Its allowing us to put our money where our mouths are

    I dont expect taxes to pay for a lot, taxes should be for the basics needed. crowd funding is giving us a chance to do it different, back the things we want done without being forced to pay for the things we dont

    the IRS should look into this
    • Re:I like this (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Sunday July 26, 2015 @11:44PM (#50187529) Journal

      Good idea. The IRS traditionally doesn't go after the rich for their full taxes because they hire good lawyers and it takes about 10 years to get a settlement. But I'd throw in money to go after billionaires tax cheats.

      • completely missed the point however sure, if you wanna spend your money to try and take money from others, so they can not even give it to you... i see no good reason you should not be able to do so

        I was referring more along the lines of how one can opt out of paying the political donations portion of their union dues, i should be able to opt out of non essential taxes and if people want their 5 million dollar new court house, instead of making everyone pay when the old courthouse is doing the job just f
        • cute, but there is this thing called the tragedy of the commons and it would prevent you're idea from working. It's also pretty inefficient for me to have to consider each part of the federal budget and give it a thumbs up or down.

          • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

            It's also pretty inefficient for me to have to consider each part of the federal budget and give it a thumbs up or down.

            Reduce the size and scope of the government and this becomes less of an issue.

        • and not raise my taxes.

          I was kind of with you up to there.

          Please, tell me, exactly what makes you think they wont also raise your taxes?
          You think the Smithsonian budget is going to reduced by this amount?
          You think they will somehow work harder and more efficiently because they have a bit more money to spend?
          You think there will be new and more effective accountability?

          What impresses me is that there are apparently quite a few people willing to voluntarily pay a new tax. Good on them? hmm... not too sure about that.

          • What impresses me is that there are apparently quite a few people willing to voluntarily pay a new tax. Good on them? hmm... not too sure about that.

            I'm willing to pay the bills. Make certain an expense is needed, and once an expense is accepted, it is incumbent on us to pay it. True conservatism, as opposed to the pseudo-crypto-conservative conceptof adopting a "don't pay the bills" touchstone, and call it "Starving the Beast.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            I pay far less in taxes than I should. I pay a smaller percentage now, it is all capital gains as I live entirely off interest and (I suppose, technically) dividends. I fully acknowledge and accept that I am able to do so because I can hire a lawyer and an accountant and they ensure I pay the exact minimal amount to the penny. I never pay more, I never pay less.

            Instead, I take the amount of money I should have paid (and then some) and donate it to causes I agree with. I donate more than I can write off (whi

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          An interpretation of your idea is to simply have people pay for the services they need when they need them. This is how the court would work; few people would fund it until they had to do so in order to secure the court's services. But such an approach would almost certainly work unfairly against the "little man".

          For example, say roads were all toll-based. If both a rich man and a poor man drive 12,000 miles per year on those roads, they would likely be charged the same under such a system. Ok, sounds f

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Most tax systems are based on the assumption that the rich need to subsidise the poor, otherwise the poor will suffer so much that they get desperate and start causing problems. First crime, then eventually revolution.

            Education is a good example. Most people couldn't afford to give their children a good education, if private school costs are anything to go by. Society needs to be well educated though, especially in the west where the majority jobs these days are clerical and require skills (literacy, numera

        • completely missed the point

          No, he missed nothing. What you missed is the law of unintended consequences. If the libertarian dream of people putting their money where their mouth is, it doesn't always quite go the way the good Libertarian expected it to go.

          Of course, he's missing that the most wealthy could easily crowdfund a big grinder to feed all the rest of us into.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swell ( 195815 )

      I don't care for this.

      Nostalgia has its place (among the aged and decrepit population). This space suit was built by committees and entrepreneurs who did their best to meet the anticipated requirements. A laudable goal. The primitive nature of this space suit is worthy of consideration as we consider future designs, and yet even our future designs fail to fully understand the reality of space.

      Yes, this space suit (or a replica) deserves a place in some stupid museum for future earthlings to snicker at, but

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        That is NASA's job and not the job of The Smithsonian. We can do both, trivially, and this is not something you are forced to participate in. As such, you really do not get a say in the matter other than to whine online about it. You can send your few dollar donation to NASA if you want. You can not tell them that the condition for your donation is specifically for a space suit, however. More information can be found in a number of links from this page: []

    • What if there were a Google App for that, that one could download; free? And it would be OpenSource?
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      The most interresting thing about this (and some other kickstarters) is that people ARE actually putting their money where their mouths are.

    • As long as we're fantasizing, how about a "line-item veto" for the taxpayer.

      Presidents have wanted this for several administrations now, but I think the power should rest with the taxpayer instead.

  • Budget (Score:2, Insightful)

    The Smithsonian budget for 2015 is $851 million. Surely they can afford this?

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      Now, it became $851.5, and yes, they can afford it.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Worse, it looks like this is not about "saving the suit" at all. If they needed 500k and got 500k, why then increase the claimed need to 700k? A: To milk all they can for whatever they can.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Common trick in marketing, they call it bait and switch.
    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday July 27, 2015 @02:01AM (#50187903)

      The Smithsonian budget for 2015 is $851 million. Surely they can afford this?

      To repeat what I said the other day:

      The Smithsonian preserves about 138 million artifacts.

      $851 million divided by 138 million artifacts yields $6.17 per artifact for conservation, restoration, display, research, physical security, insurance, educational outreach, administration, and so on.

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday July 27, 2015 @02:27AM (#50188001)

        I'd bet the vast majority of those artifacts are likely sitting in shelves full of boxes and bins in the basement, and are not in need of any costly preservation measures, short of maintaining a dry, climate-controlled environment.

        Good on them for figuring out how to generate some more revenue, but it tends to remind me of how local governments spend their entire budget, then come begging to taxpayers in the form of additional bonds to fund critical police programs, fire protection services, parks, schools / education, or emergency services infrastructure. They know taxpayers have a harder time saying "no" to these types of services.

        Don't get me wrong... I'm really happy these suits are being preserved. It just seems strange that they couldn't have figured out how to do this within their existing budget. Given the historical importance of these suits, it makes me think that maybe their priorities are a bit off regarding their budget expenditures. What would they have done if the money hadn't been raised? Let the suits rot in a locker in the basement? Auction them off to a private collector? And what happens the next time they have some important American historical artifact? Is this sort of fundraising going to happen again?

        • by asylumx ( 881307 )
          I'm OK with NASA not focusing on preserving history. Their budget is for space exploration, not museum curation. If they actually gave these spacesuits to the museum and then the museum tried to crowdfund it, would you be complaining about it?

          That said, it's probably better that NASA be involved because they can help with the research -- some things shouldn't be repaired because they are part of the suit's history, and NASA would probably be better able to distinguish.
        • I hate to say that I agree. I'm reminded of one trip to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. There was a team of about seven curators there to put three items in a display case. They all seemed to be attentive but it was work that could be done by one person. I think there's a ton of featherbedding around the place. I bet they could have just put the suit in a dry box and that would have been enough. I doubt there's anything they can do to keep the rubber soft enough. But they've figured out how to
    • Re:Budget (Score:4, Informative)

      by hankwang ( 413283 ) on Monday July 27, 2015 @02:03AM (#50187913) Homepage

      This is what they say on the Kickstarter page:

      Isn't the Smithsonian federally funded? Good question! Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian's operating budget and support core functions, such as building operations and maintenance, research, and safeguarding the collections. Projects like Reboot the Suit aren't covered by our federal appropriations, which means we can only undertake them if we can fund them some other way. In other words, we won't be able to do this project without the participation of Kickstarter backers.

      • That's good to know, and it explains the rationale a bit more.

        Still... Would Congress really have complained had they requested a portion of their budget be directed for the research and preservation of some artifacts of substantial importance to American history? Are they really that limited by the scope of their federal budget? They seriously can't undertake important projects like this without breaking rules?

        I think I'd be more comfortable changing the rules attached to their funding in order to give t

    • The Smithsonian budget for 2015 is $851 million. Surely they can afford this?

      They surely can. But it isn't all just "affording"

      Some of it is people putting their money where their mouth is

      Some of it is a sort of poll regarding people's interests

      In some respects, it reminds me a bit of Newt Gingrich's "Contract on America", and his approach to Public Radio. He really wanted to kill off that liberal bastion, so gutted funds with the excuse that it would succeed or fail on it's own merits.

      Fully expecting Public Radio would soon be a part of America's past.

      Then came the fundra

  • Its a government contract, cost overruns due to inadequate or changing specifications are to be expected. :-)
  • Citizen of Earth ? Where's that paperwork with would allow me to travel and work anywhere I want ?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So space enthusiasts, contribute $700,000 or the Smithonian (Budget $800 million a year, currently opening an extra museum in London), won't maintain this space suit.

    Sounds like blackmail to me. It's one thing to ask for donations is another to do a kickstarter to do something that is their job to do anyway.

    $800 million, 6000 staff is enough to do their job, if they can't or won't do their job, the exhibits should be handed to other museums.

    • do you have the line by line breakdown on expenses? I dont but id really love to see what it is, see what that 800 million is buying

      having said that, WHY isnt there a breakdown, line item, for all costs that our government spends?

      the IRS will freak out if i miss one little thing but they spend trillions a year and most of us have no idea where our money is actually going
      • having said that, WHY isnt there a breakdown, line item, for all costs that our government spends?

        There is, but you're clearly too lazy to look for it and almost certainly too lazy to actually read through it. []

        That took all of 5 seconds on Google. That's FY2013 but it's hard to imagine anything significant changed for FY2014.

        Reports similar to this are available for just about every government agency. The budget omnibus that congress passes is a matter of public record as is the requests that each government agency submits (which the budget omnibus is based on).

        Of course

        • having said that, WHY isnt there a breakdown, line item, for all costs that our government spends?

          There is, but you're clearly too lazy to look for it and almost certainly too lazy to actually read through it.

          Dammit man! You're really harshing his truthiness!

    • They say this money is to display the suit. Though they then go on to say that it will be better maintained through documentation of its current state and research into its history if you fund it.

    • The suit is kept in a climate controlled environment to slow degradation of the suit material, particularly parts of it made from rubber. A lot of this money is being used to make a 3d digital model that includes scanning the individual layers of the suit using CT scans. The suit will then be displayed online for people to see.

      I may be wrong about the technology being used in the digitization process, but in principle the aim is for people to be able to see the suit without causing further damage to it by

  • by jsepeta ( 412566 ) on Monday July 27, 2015 @12:10AM (#50187619) Homepage

    That's a lot of money. Are they hiring 1000 people to do the work?

    • Why it is it so expensive?

      No one knows what Columbus was wearing when he set foot in the New World, but on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took his ''one giant leap'' onto the Moon, he was clad in this custom-made spacesuit, model A7L, serial number 056. Its cost, estimated at the time as $100,000 (more than $670,000 today), sounds high only if you think of it as couture. In reality, once helmet, gloves and an oxygen-supplying backpack were added, it was a wearable spacecraft. Cocooned within 21 layers of synthetics, neoprene rubber and metalized polyester films, Armstrong was protected from the airless Moon's extremes of heat and cold (plus 240 Fahrenheit degrees in sunlight to minus 280 in shadow), deadly solar ultraviolet radiation and even the potential hazard of micrometeorites hurtling through the void at 10 miles per second.

      The Apollo suits were blends of cutting-edge technology and Old World craftsmanship. Each suit was hand-built by seamstresses who had to be extraordinarily precise; a stitching error as small as 1/32 inch could mean the difference between a space-worthy suit and a reject. While most of the suit's materials existed long before the Moon program, one was invented specifically for the job. After a spacecraft fire killed three Apollo astronauts during a ground test in 1967, NASA dictated the suits had to withstand temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The solution was a state-of-the-art fabric called Beta cloth, made of Teflon-coated glass microfibers, used for the suit's outermost layer.

      For the suit's creator, the International Latex Corporation in Dover, Delaware, the toughest challenge was to contain the pressure necessary to support life (about 3.75 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen), while maintaining enough flexibility to afford freedom of motion. A division of the company that manufactured Playtex bras and girdles, ILC had engineers who understood a thing or two about rubber garments. They invented a bellowslike joint called a convolute out of neoprene reinforced with nylon tricot that allowed an astronaut to bend at the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips and ankles with relatively little effort. Steel aircraft cables were used throughout the suit to absorb tension forces and help maintain its shape under pressure.

      Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit Was Made by a Bra Manufacturer [] [Nov 2013]

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Monday July 27, 2015 @07:42AM (#50188583) Homepage Journal

      Someone from the Smithsonian was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 in the UK and explained the cost. They need to find and hire historians to figure out what the suit is made of (believe it or not the records are incomplete) and what modifications were made after it returned to earth (they intend to restore it to its original state when used on the moon). They then need to get materials experts to figure out how to clean, restore, maintain and preserve it indefinitely. It's not easy, especially when you have a mixture of unusual materials that were made using obsolete techniques back in the 1960s. It's also fairly unique, as later suits were improved versions, often with informal undocumented mods and changes made by staff and crew.

      They also want to 3D scan the whole thing, inside and out. That will require some careful disassembly and reassembly.

      Half a million bucks doesn't seem like a lot when you consider the salaries involved, the contracts and materials etc. You can't just grab some cotton swabs and alcohol.

  • Why does it cost half a million to "preserve" a suit? If you were to go looking, you could find suits and dresses well preserved from a hundred years ago. What's so special about these suits? Yeah, they're historical, and you don't want just any idiot fumbling around with them. Still, half a million dollars?

    Maybe they should have advertised, and taken bids. These folk look qualified to do the job - []

    • If you were to go looking, you could find suits and dresses well preserved from a hundred years ago. What's so special about these suits?


      • Idiot. Alright - WTF is in that suit that people haven't been preserving for hundreds of years already? Seriously - why is the suit so much more complicated and expensive? Half a million dollars. WTF is going on here? []

        You tell me - what is in that suit that is so very difficult to preserve? Mostly, it's composed of various kinds of plastic. Preservation for plastic? Avoid direct sunlight - and ???? You might go over them with something like Armorall now and then. The

        • all of my utterances deserve to be listened to with the same amount of consideration as those that actually know what they are talking about. Mind if I use your post as a textbook example of the Dunning Kruger effect?
        • Idiot. Alright - WTF is in that suit that people haven't been preserving for hundreds of years already?

          As posted upthread, they don't know. The records are incomplete. They'll have to start by hiring a historian to try and find out what it is made out of, what changes have been made to the suit, and what condition it was in when it was on the moon. If they can't they'll have to find somebody who can find out in a non-destructive way. Then they'll need somebody to figure out how to preserve it as well as somebody to do the work. Then comes taking the 3D scan of the thing. Then they'll probably also need someb

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Monday July 27, 2015 @01:18AM (#50187791)

    I've read all the gripes about the cost of $500,000 to preserve Armstrong's suit, the $200,000 stretch to get Carpenter's suit, and Smithsonian's $851M budget. Let's get the whole picture into our heads before we judge.

    First, go to ALL of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall and at Udvar Hazy. Not just the aerospace related ones, all of them. Keeping relics in a closet for decades is easy; restoring and keeping these relics for public display and appreciation while avoiding deterioration is hard, tedious, laborious work, and it requires the efforts of passionate specialists who understand the original fabrication methods and know the means for slowing degradation. That means researchers who have to understand everything about the history of a particular item, possibly a one-of-a-kind item. Protecting these items often means careful climate control for individual artefacts, sometimes storage in inert gases, etc.. When you go to the Smithsonian and look at the exhibits, look carefully for the technology that surrounds and protects these artefacts. It is not cheap. Restoring and maintaining America's cultural and technological relics for $851M per year? I'm surprised it is not more. Yeah, they are tax dollars, but for all the crap that is done with our tax dollars, I'd say restoring and protecting the relics of America's cultural and technological achievements is money well spent.

    Second, these space suits were worn by the first humans to set foot on another world and the first American into space. Armstrong's small step is arguably one of the greatest achievements of humankind, not just of America. $500,000 for restoration and arrangement of long term protection and display of this suit does not seem unreasonable at all. Another $200,000 for Carpenter's suit, leveraging the effort applied for Armstrong's suit, again seems sensible. If they are smart they'll keep tacking on reach goals of $100,000 for additional suits. And this is a Kickstarter campaign - if people really think this is an egregious waste of money, they simply don't contribute. People who want their kids to see these relics and understand what goes into preserving these things understand the size of these monetary goals and contribute.

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      greatest achievements of humankind ? are you kidding me ? We have been (40 years ago) sending a few men of the moon, but haven't fixed any of mankind's problem here on earth. The moon landing was a political race to show the Russians that Americans had the biggest.

      It might has well had been solved by having Khrushchev and Nixon in a contest about who was pissing the further away...
      • greatest achievements of humankind ? are you kidding me ? We have been (40 years ago) sending a few men of the moon, but haven't fixed any of mankind's problem here on earth. The moon landing was a political race to show the Russians that Americans had the biggest.

        What is so sad is that many people think like you do.

        You're entitled to your opinion, but it is a sad one IMHO... There is no future to the human race in your worldview...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What do you think is a greater achievement: footsteps in regolith, or the ability to talk or work with anyone on the planet from anywhere in real time? Which one is more important to solving our problems and will contribute to the well-being of our species?

          My vote is for the technology we all can and currently are actually using.

          • by asylumx ( 881307 )
            I didn't realize it was a competition and only one thing can be good for mankind. Does that mean we should stop all exploration and focus only on expanding the internet?
          • you would realize that a lot of that technology came about due to the space program. Maybe you'll have it in history class next year.
          • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
            In the big pictures, talking or work with anyone on the planet from anywhere in real time is irrelevant. It's just an attempt to give the blink of our lives a meaning.
          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            It will be nice to tweet that the Sun is expanding and that the Earth's certain, nonnegotiable, doom is immanent. I am fine with letting our species die out and the planet disappear as a hunk of ash because I am an asshole that does not care about four billion years from now. Are you?

        • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
          What do you think will happen, really ? We'll all live the Star Trek utopia ? Earth has been our cradle, it will be out coffin. Everything which happen in-between is irrelevant.
          • That is sad... why do you bother to wake up in the morning then? Why not just kill yourself and leave more room for the rest of us?

  • The ones that do things that don't actually have to be done. Nothing would control budget bloat better.

    The amount they're asking for is odd... but what do I know.

    I did some calculations and found it very hard to claim more than 170k to actually restore one of the suits. So the 500k initial ask was odd. And now they're adding another suit and apparently that is costing an extra 200k... which is suspiciously close to my initial calculation of 170k.

    The question I have on all that is where is the other 300k goi

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I did some calculations and found it very hard to claim more than 170k to actually restore one of the suits.

      Wow Karmashock! I'm impressed to meet one of the designers of these one-of-a-kind, literally one of the few in existence suits! I mean, that's the only way you could have "done some calculations" and known how complicated it would be to restore it, right? You definitely didn't just pull that number out of your ass?

    • but not expe3cted from someone who obviously does not have a single clue, yet thinks he can impress everyone with his delusions of adequacy.
      • Did you have a complete argument/thought or just a random baseless insult that can be brushed off as the typical internet white noise from retards?

        Tell me what you want evidence for specifically and I'll argue my case. As it stands, I couldn't respond to your stupid comment if I wanted to... its so vague pathetically focused on delivering a baseless and thus meaningless insult that you actually forgot to get to the bit where you try to make sense.

        Your move, cream puff.

        • of course, both of these would show you to be lacking in any sort of knowledge so I guess we will just have to put up with you tugging on the adults coattails trying to get their attention.
          • So you have nothing?

            Okay... I regret your stupidity and general lack of worth to the community.

            Better luck next life.

    • The question I have on all that is where is the other 300k going because THAT appears to be going for "pictures and websites"... and that simply baffles me.

      Besides restoration, the plan also includes documentation of the suit including photos, a 3D scan, online display of that 3D scan, climate controlled case, and special stand for the suit that will climate control the inside of the suit also so it can all be ready for the 50th anniversary in 2019.

      Link to BBC []

      Another [] video that is a bit longer that states that the documentation will also include a research into the complete history of the suit and address the price question.

  • This project (Armstrong suit conservation) is a no-brainer for good PR. Some congressman, grant manager, or corporate donor should jump to sponsor this. Congress has been a mess the last few years, but no one at NASA, NSF, or on their donor list was willing to step up? They get $1.1 billion in federal set asides and grants and $200 million in big donations, but no one in those funding streams was interested in being linked to preserving Armstrong's space suit? Really?

    My problem is the implication they're

  • Backers are simply enabling these people and not actually helping to cure their hoarding illness, 138 million items is really nothing to be proud of, they should be actively encouraged to de-clutter and to let go of these things, they will thank you for it in the long run.
  • Don't forget that Shepard had to urinate in his suit because of delays in his launch. Seems like his suit should cost more to "preserve"...
  • clownfunding was for people who did not have money. not giant established entities that have more or equal to the amount of money that god would have.

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker