The sweet spot between technology and craftsmanship

The stakes were high when the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum contacted Scansite to create 15 replicas of Neil Armstrong’s iconic spacesuit. Not only did the Museum want the replicas to be truly faithful to the original, they wanted them to be so exact that viewers today could experience the same magic of that fateful day 50 years ago when Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The life-size, interactive “Apollo at the Park” replicas were in made in conjunction with the Museum’s 50th-anniversary celebration. “Baseball parks are the perfect venues for new generations to learn more about that summer night on July 20, 1969,” said Ellen Stofan, director of the National Air and Space Museum. “The spacesuit replicas allow us to bring a piece of Apollo to Americans everywhere.” Making such faithful replicas meant a considerable amount of creative thinking was needed and is exactly the kind of project that Scansite is known for. “The first question we ask,” according to Scansite’s CEO, Lisa Federici, “is where do you want to be at the end of the day? Then we work backwards from there to come up with a reasonable solution within a budget. Often time, with projects like the Smithsonian’s, there’s going to a sweet spot between technology and craftsmanship.”

Breuckmann structured light scanner

The project began in Washington D.C. where high-resolution 3D scanning was conducted on the original spacesuit. The scanning presented significant challenges as the suit was made from several different types of material and included detail such as hand stitching, insignia patches, see‐through gauges, metal ports, gloves, boots, and Velcro. The suit also needed to be scanned upright and could not be moved during the process. This meant the material folded onto itself which created numerous undercuts and hidden surfaces. The heavy lifting portion of the scanning was completed using a Breuckmann structured light scanner and a Faro touch probe. Once the data acquisition was completed, the file size amounted to over 5.3 gigabytes of information! The “Apollo at the Park” replicas are now on display at 15 MLB ballparks around the country and available for augmented reality experiences and photo opportunities throughout the summer and fall at 15 MLB locations:

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