During its five mission on the original “Star Trek” series, the show occasionally referred to the USS Enterprise having to go into a space station for a repair of some kind; but it wasn’t until the first of over a dozen movies that fans ever actually saw the ship in space dock.
It has been nearly 50 years since the original model was constructed. For the past 15 years the Enterprise has been docked at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; but prior to being moved to a new location in the Museum complex – the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall – the Enterprise is undergoing a complete refit. The Enterprise model has undergone a number of restorations over the past 35 years. The Museum plans to restore the model to the way it looked in “The Trouble with Tribbles” in August of 1967.
The original Enterprise model was designed by Walter “Matt” Jefferies – the acces tubes used by the engineering crew to maintain the ship were called Jefferies tubes.
Once the refit is completed, the starship Enterprise will joing Charles Lingbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and the command module from Apollo 11. Made possible by a $30 million donation from Boeing, the Milestones of Flight Hall is scheduled to open in July 2016.
Museum curator Margaret Weitekamp said, “placing the Enterprise with real-life aircraft and spacecraft pays tribute to the museum’s mandate to encourage visitors to dream.”
The model of the USS Enterprise is eleven feet in length and was used in every external shot in the show over the three seasons – 79 episodes – that ran from 1966-1969.
While the model is a mere eleven feet long, it represented a ship that was designed to travel faster than light speed using a matter-antimatter powered engine and was 947 feet long and 417 feet side with eleven decks and grossing 190,000 tons. The ship’s compliment was 430 men and women from a variety of races and cultures.
The model was constructed using poplar wood, vacu-formed plastic, sheet metal, brass, steel wires, and plastic.
This year “Star Trek” will celebrate its 50th anniversary, the model of the Starship is also nearly 50 years old and is showing its age. The Museum is working to determine the best way to restore the model which is showing its age with cracking paint and sagging nacelles.
The original “Star Trek” series only ran for three years, but has gone on to become one of the most popular science fiction franchises with five different series, an animated series, and over a dozen films; with a new film and internet series on the way.
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