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A 3-D printed replica of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit was unveiled on Tuesday evening on the main concourse of Nationals Park. The hand-painted rigid resin suit is one of 15 displayed in ballparks throughout the country this summer in celebration of the 1969 mission’s 50th anniversary, and is the first part of a summer-long series of celebrations organized by the National Air and Space Museum.
“The Smithsonian came to us and said, ‘It’s the 50th anniversary, what do you guys think?’ And we are very eager to work with the Smithsonian whenever we can,” says Gregory McCarthy, senior vice president of community engagement for the Nationals. “We as a team have been promoting STEM education, we work a lot with D.C. public schools, and if we can inspire a young boy or girl to have a career in science, that’s great. Women and people of color are grossly underrepresented in science and aviation, so we’re hoping this suit here will inspire kids who see it to think big.”
“Baseball is all about teamwork, and so was going to the moon,” adds Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars director at the National Air and Space Museum. “It took 400,000 people around the country to make Apollo happen. So we want to emphasize, especially for kids who come to the ballpark, that great achievements are done by teams, whether it’s baseball or going to the moon.”
As for Armstrong’s real spacesuit, the Smithsonian’s 2015 “Reboot the Suit” Kickstarter campaign raised more than $700,000 in donations to have the suit restored. “The suits were made to go to the moon and back, but they weren’t necessarily made to last 50 years,” Stofan says. The artifact will go back on display at the National Air and Space Museum for the first time in 13 years on July 16.
On July 5, the museum and the Nationals team up again for Apollo Night, which will feature aerospace-themed pregame activities, educational videos throughout the game, and limited edition t-shirts. Neil Armstrong’s son, Mark Armstrong, will throw the first pitch.
Find the suit on the main concourse near the home plate gate of the ballpark, and visit snapthesuit.si.edu on your mobile device to explore the suit’s interactive components, which trigger educational resources like videos, quotes, and archival pictures from the mission. Hint: Start with the Apollo 11 patch.