The U.S.S. Enterprise studio model from Star Trek: The Original Series continues her trek toward reaching her new home -- the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, which will open in July 2016, in time for Trek's 50th anniversary. Last week, the team responsible for her restoration, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Special Advisory Committee Star Trek Starship Enterprise Studio Model, met at the museum’s Udvar-Hazy annex in Chantilly, VA. StarTrek.com has exclusive photos and details about the gathering.
In attendance were Gary Kerr, noted expert and historian on the original Enterprise shooting model; Michael and Denise Okuda; John Goodson, model builder and VFX artist with Industrial Light & Magic, who has worked on many Trek films; Rick Sternbach, Andrew Probert, John Van Citters, VP Product Development CBS Consumer Products; Margaret Weitekamp, Space History Curator National Air & Space Museum; Malcolm Collum, Chief Conservator National Air & Space Museum; Adam Schneider; and Ariel O’Connor, Museum Conservator, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Committee member Doug Drexler was unable to attend. Portions of the day and individual interview pieces were filmed by the Smithsonian Channel.
The day began with an in-person examination of the Enterprise model and an open discussion of the ship, her structure and present condition. Committee members and the Smithsonian team discussed elements of the ship, past restoration, current repair and restoration needs, etc. The paint and decals on the top surface of the saucer are original and unretouched since arriving at the museum in 1974. This can be seen in photographs that show substantial cracking from age in the original surface paint. The Smithsonian is doing in-depth paint analysis to determine what paints were used originally and how many layers of paint and colors/materials were used during previous conservation/restoration efforts in 1974, 1984 and 1991.
A key topic of discussion involved the color of the original hull paint. It has a much heavier green tone to the grey than most fans realize. And that's because the green tone is largely washed out by lighting when the ship is photographed.
A meeting in the Director’s Conference Room at the museum was next, and it featured an in-depth discussion of the artifact and the best ways to properly remove recent paint restoration while protecting, preserving and/or restoring original paint surfaces. A subsequent discussion with the museum’s exhibition team addresses plans for the NASM’s new Milestones of Flight gallery, which, as noted, will open July 4th weekend 2016. This will be the main gallery of the museum that is centered on the two museum entrances, with the Enterprise set to take her place alongside such milestone artifacts as the Spirit of St. Louis, Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1, X-Prize winner SpaceShip One and more.
In the afternoon, a second in-depth examination of the ship took place in the conservation lab, with more detailed and free discussion of how to functionally proceed from here to preserve the Enterprise and best present her for future generations.
Day two was punctuated by on-camera interviews with committee members, buttoning up final thoughts and recommendations for the Smithsonian conservation staff to evaluate, and a tour of the conservation hangar facility adjacent to the Space Shuttle Discovery at the museum, where a variety of air and space artifacts from the last century were in process of being conserved for display.
You'll notice an extra photo among the shots of the Enterprise. It's a picture of a Star Trek combadge. That combadge is actually indicative of why the Enterprise is so important to real-life space exploration and part of the NASM collection. That combadge was in the conservation lab in a box containing various personal effects of... Sally Ride. It was originally found in her desk drawer, truly a meeting of sci-fact inspired by Star Trek's sci-fi.
Keep an eye on StarTrek.com for additional updates about the restoration of the U.S.S. Enterprise studio model from Star Trek: The Original Series.