Original USS Enterprise prop restored to its former glory

The restored NCC-1701 is available to view in the Air and Space museum's new Milestones of Flight exhibition.

Eric Long / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

There's probably enough material about the tragic afterlives of the USS Enterprise models to fill a small book, at least. Until two years ago, the 1701 prop used for Star Trek (1966) had been left hanging in the Smithsonian's basement gift shop. Now, to celebrate the museum's 40th anniversary, the model has been restored as an exhibit in the Boeing Milestones of Flight hall, which opens Friday. A team, led by the museum's chief conservator Malcolm Collum, collaborated with fans and Industrial Light and Magic to restore the model to its former glories. After all, a 50-year-old prop from a '60s TV show was never designed to last this long.

The effects house proved vital in adding a working lighting scheme to the model, although it now uses LEDs rather than incandescent bulbs. But the museum's own team did the bulk of the work, including building a new deflector dish after the original was lost at some point before 1974. With this restoration, the glory of the original model has been restored, although that only serves to highlight the tortures that the 1701 (Refit) prop has suffered since 1979. If you're unfamiliar, this forum thread should bring you up to speed, but it's fair that at least the original series model got a happy ending.