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Historic Mercury Redstone Rocket restoration begins

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- The restoration of the rockets at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center has officially begun. The first parts of some of the historic rockets have been taken in for restoration, the first steps in an estimated $20 million project.

Three components of the Mercury Redstone Rocket are being restored.

"This is an identical capsule to what Alan Shepard would have ridden in, back in the day in 1961 when he took that historic flight," said Pat Ammons, with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The rocket was mounted in 1969, ahead of the opening of the Rocket Center

The command capsule, escape rocket, and the launch stand of the rocket are moving from the rocket center to Marshall Space Flight Center to be preserved.

"You can tell it's been out in the weather. It could use a little love," said Ammons.

The parts will be patched and repaired before they are repainted.

"We want to prepare these vehicles to last as long as possible, so we don't have to this process more often then we have to because it is an expensive one," she said.

After the three parts, the rest of the rocket will be restored. Then they hope to finally begin repainting the Saturn V.

"Before July of 2019, which of course is the 50th anniversary of the day that Neil Armstrong to that monumental first step on the moon," Ammons said.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center will also eventually restore four other historic rockets.

To have the Saturn V and the other rockets looking shiny and new before the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, but it costs a lot of money. They are asking for the community's support to complete these projects.