When the original Star Trek ended, Paramount donated the original Enterprise model to the Smithsonian - but years of display and tune ups have taken their toll on the model, until now: NASM has announced they're restoring the ship to how it first appeared on TV 48 years ago.

The history of the Enterprise model is a lengthy tale of unfortunate neglect. Donated 5 years after Star Trek was cancelled, the Enterprise spent most of its life at the National Air and Space Museum hung from a ceiling as a display model - something the original model was never intended to do, eventually creating stress fractures across the whole ship. Since 2000, the ship was rightfully displayed on a stand in the Museum's gift shop.

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However, even as Star Trek as a franchise took off with the movie series and The Next Generation, the original Enterprise was viewed by the Smithsonian as a piece of décor rather than a cultural artifact to be preserved for the future. In attempts to restore the model in the early nineties to make it look better, they added extra detailing to the model and a new paint job - something Margaret Weitekamp, curator of the Museum's Social and Cultural Dimensions of Spaceflight Collection, admitted to the audience of a Public lecture last week was wrong. Finally though, NASM have announced they are undertaking a major restoration of the model to attempt to restore it to its original form.

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The model has been removed from display, and won't be returned to public display for at least 18 months. When it does return, its new home will be in the Boeing's Milestones of Flight Hall at the museum - and when it arrives in 2016, it'll be just in time for not only NASM's 40th anniversary, but the original series' 50th anniversary as well.

[Air and Space Magazine]


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