Live Long and Prosper: Star Ship Enterprise Featured in Smithsonian

Jun 28, 2016 | 0 comments

Star Trek Enterprise Ship

Star Trek Enterprise Ship courtesy the Smithsonian

The original Star Trek spaceship Enterprise is now enshrined in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum’s main Hall of Flight. The 11-foot long model of the ship from the original TV series, last remodeled in 1967, was rescued from deterioration in the museum’s gift shop by museum conservator Malcolm Collum.

This article in the Washington Post detailed the changes made in the restoration. From the story:

When Paramount donated the ship to the Smithsonian in 1974, “Star Trek” was just a single short-lived TV series. As the franchise expanded, the Enterprise model fell into disrepair. Sagging nacelles (the ship’s torpedo-shaped engine housings) and flaking paint spurred Collum to take the ship out of the gift shop and into the conservation lab in 2014.

Here’s what’s new:

A green-gray paint job. Using the original paint on the top of the saucer as a reference, conservators returned the ship to its proper color by removing paint applied during previous restorations and adding new paint where needed. “People are going to say it looks too green now, but it looked more gray on TV because of the powerful incandescent studio lights,” Collum says.

Space tarnish. Artists from visual-effects studio Industrial Light and Magic applied bronze-colored streaks and specks, lost during past restorations, to the exterior. “It looks like the ship was speeding through space and ran through a cloud of something that splattered across its hull,” Collum says.

Old-school decals. With historic photos as a reference, ILM artists added lettering to the sides of the starship using the waterslide method (the same technology that underlies temporary tattoos) used by the original model makers.

A more authentic deflector dish. Before coming to the Smithsonian, the Enterprise lost its deflector dish — the saucer at the front that projects a force field to protect the ship from space debris. During an earlier restoration, “the museum made a not-very-accurate replacement — we referred to it as the salad bowl,” Collum says. The new dish is a perfect replica, re-created using the original specs.

Lights that won’t cause fires. In addition to blinking lights throughout the ship, the Enterprise’s nacelles appeared to have spinning lights inside, an effect created with motors, mirrors and Christmas lights. The old incandescent bulbs ran hot and actually scorched the inside of the wooden model, which is why they were removed long ago, Collum says. The restored version uses LED lights to replicate the original effects. “When you turn on the lights, it just brings the ship to life,” Collum says. “It’s an incredible transformation.”

Mr. Spock "Live Long and Prosper"

Mr. Spock “Live Long and Prosper”

Want to know the origin of the “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture? Read this Family Plot Blog Post with the story by Leonard Nimoy.

For those who want a Star Trek themed funeral, check out this post about Undertaking Betty.

Hail to the newly restored Enterprise! And to all of you, Live Long and Prosper!

A Good Goodbye