Teen Takes On Smithsonian In Bid To Reclaim Spacesuit

A tenacious teen is seeking a corporate backer for her attempts to return the late astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom's spacesuit to his home state of Indiana.
She said in an interview Monday that a pledge would help in the event that her fight pays off and it could add weight to her cause. Lockheed Martin turned her down. GE hasn't responded to her request.

Peter Golkin, spokesman for the National Air and Space Museum, said he doesn't know where she came up with the $23,000 figure. He claims no one promised to send the spacesuit to Indiana and national curators have the experience and authority to decide when and where to loan artifacts. He said no museum in the United States has two astronauts' suits on loan from the Smithsonian.

Meyer and her mother claim the Smithsonian promised to allow Amanda to speak before a committee that would decide the fate of the spacesuit, but Golkin said: "There are no open committee hearings on artifact loans."

Golkin said the Smithsonian weighs requests from family members and other interested parties but he's not aware of any letters from the family requesting that the suit be sent to the memorial museum. And, he said, the Smithsonian can't move artifacts just because that's what people want.

"People have their beliefs and stand by them," he said. "We have to stand by the facts."

Meyer has obtained support and admiration from officials in Indiana who said that they wrote the Smithsonian in October saying they would like to have the spacesuit on loan if it becomes available. "I know that this young lady is persevering, and I tell you what a wonderful, wonderful challenge this is," said Dan Bortner, the Indiana state park official who agreed to support the request. "It's just outstanding. She has really put her work into this and really made a passion out of it. Regardless of the outcome, you've got to give this young lady credit for having a vision and actually trying to make it happen."

The young student and would-be astronaut vows to persevere. "I just wanted to do this and once I start I really don't stop until I get done what I need to get done," Meyer said. "There have been ups and downs throughout this whole process, but in the end, I think things are going to end positively for this family."

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