The Starship Enterprise from the Star Trek television series of 1966, the single most iconic spaceship ever designed, has been fully and lovingly restored by the artisans and engineers at the Smithsonian Institution. The original shooting model of the Starship Enterprise has been hanging on display in the Smithsonian gift shop for about ten years, and has been restored a few times before. The ship itself is now just over 50 years old,
“From a conservator’s standpoint, that is probably one of the worst places to put an artifact,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator of the National Air and Space Museum. Collum led the team that painstakingly restored the Enterprise over the past year and a half. Conservators used a portable X-ray machine — borrowed from the National Zoo — to piece together the internal structure of the ship.
With its nacelles beginning to sag, it was once again time to put the ship back into drydock and give it a refit — this time to restore it to its glory days, circa 1967. The model is about eleven feet long and weighs about 200 pounds. Originally built by the Production Model Shop in Burbank, California, it had a distinctly greenish hue to it. This coloration helped keep it visually separate from the bluescreen background against which it was shot.
The Enterprise model is made almost entirely of wood and vacuum formed plastic. It was supported on poles and metal stands, and was detailed only on one side. When it was necessary to shoot from the port side, they simply applied reversed decals, shot it and flipped the film over.
Now that the restoration is completed, the Enterprise is on permanent display in the museum’s Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.
This is a short film showing the process of the detail paint work on the conservation of the original U.S.S. Enterprise miniature, used in all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek television series. The detail paint work was done between the 11th and the 23rd of April 2016 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The model is now on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.