Admirers of the late Neil Armstrong are now able to see parts of the spacesuit he was wearing when he took the historic first steps on the moon at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Northern Virginia.
The “extra vehicular” gloves and visor worn by the Apollo 11 astronaut on his July 20, 1969 spacewalk are displayed in the center’s James S. McDonnell space hangar, which also houses the Space Shuttle Discovery, where they will remain for two weeks.
Armstrong’s spacesuit had been on display at the Air and Space Museum location in the District from 1973 until 2001, when it was put into storage because of preservation concerns. “These are the three items that are not going suffer any further damage until we find a better display situation,” says Cathy Lewis, curator of the National Air and Space Museum’s international space programs and spacesuits.
The gloves were hand-sewn. “Save the overshoes, they are the most obvious iconic images of Armstrong on the moon — the big white sun bonnet on top of helmet and bulky gloves with characteristic blue silicone rubber fingertips . . . I remember as a child, even in the grainy black and white tv broadcast you could make those out in the image,” she says.
Lewis says the museum wanted the memorial to go up in advance of NASA’s public memorial for Armstrong at the National Cathedral on Sept. 13.
The Armstrong memorial will be on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly until Sept. 18.