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Donations fuel effort to restore rocket replica in Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Residents from across the nation are donating money to help refurbish a giant rocket in Huntsville.

The rocket is the only standing replica of the Saturn V rocket that took men to the moon reported.

It is being overhauled at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in the northern Alabama city. The museum is cleaning up the towering rocket for the July celebration of the first moon landing 50 years ago.

The project is expected to cost about $1.3 million. To help pay for it, the museum began a $250,000 fundraising campaign last month.

The 363-foot-tall (111-meter) rocket was built in 1999 for the 30th anniversary of the first moon landing. It’s undergoing its first top-to-bottom restoration, the news site reported.

Weather has taken its toll on the rocket over the years, the museum said on its website. Though it is structurally sound, it is in need of cleaning, re-sealing and painting.

A 300-ton (272-metric ton) crane is being used for the work, officials said. It received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration since the rocket is in the air space of Redstone Arsenal.

The museum is relying on donations for the restoration project partly because it doesn’t receive funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for operations or repairs.

Donations have come from every state except Hawaii, Vermont and Wyoming, the museum recently announced.

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