Lying on a work-bar closed to the public at the Smithsonian Aviation Museum and Space near Washington Dulles, Neil Armstrong's gloves look almost new.
It's hard to say they've made the way to the moon and back 50 years ago.
On their side, the "Snoopy Cap" (officially known as the "Communication Carrier") was seldom received by a member of the Buzz Aldrin crew. The space suit worn by Michael Collins, the third astronaut from Apollo 11, is nearby.
But the blue silicone tips of Armstrong's fingers began to degrade – the process that is now invisible to the naked eye – as did Collins's suits.
"After 50 years we know that the tire is crumbling and getting stiff and fragile," says Lisa Young, the conservator of the museum.
– That's inevitable. They were made for one-time use, up to the moon and back, "added Young, who was only a child when on July 20, 1969. Armstrong and Aldrin touched the lunar surface.
"We know that rubber bubbles should last only six months and have lasted for 50 years."
When AFP visited this workshop, Young and her colleagues explained their work to postpone the degradation of these facilities, which were devoted to generations of enthusiasts of the universe.
Young is intimately familiar with Armstrong's spaceship.
After visiting the United States after the mission, he remained exposed at the main branch of this museum in Washington, until 2006, but has since renewed.
They will return to the exhibition from July 16 onwards, on the anniversary of Apollos 11's departure from Earth.
"I'm sad, but I find it a little easier," Young admitted. "It's been a long time and a lot of projects and I'm happy to see the public again."
Suits are made of 21 different layers and can not be cut or separated.
The outer layer is made of fiberglass coated with teflon, known as a "beta fabric", designed to protect the user from micrometeoritis and radiation, although over time, yellow with light exposure.
Despite this, Young is convinced he can keep it in an almost intact state.
Adhesive materials between the layers are more complex.
Using X-rays and CT scans, the team realized they were humiliating.
There is also a chemical reaction between the copper shutter alloy and the rubber coating, catalyzing the decomposition process.
Restorers use solvents to clean metallic parts, lay seams to stabilize outer fabric (but not if mission damage occurs).
And they suck the dust that came out of the museum.
Armstrong's suit will be housed in a showcase that is kept at low temperature and humidity and protected from harmful light.
Finally, models tailor-made provide fiber support from the inside.
Our engineers at that time believed that they chose the best possible mission materials, although they did not know the composition of lunar soil.
"Lunar dirt is much more aggressive than we expected," said Cathleen Lewis, curator of space suits.
He points out a pair of lunar boots covered with stainless steel and blue silicone rubber soles worn by Gene Cernan, the last man on the Moon, to show the black layer of dirt that still pans him from a three-day stay,
Looked under the microscope, "you will find granular lunar dust granules embedded in stainless steel fibers and eroding them," she said.
"It's one of those lessons learned" from the Apollo time, she added.