Jan
28

They boldly went where at least a few have gone before

This 3.4 meter (11-foot) model of the fictional Starship Enterprise will go on display in the reimagined Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. Star Trek pushed the boundaries of network television with its depiction of a mixed-sex, racially-integrated, multinational crew and its attention to contemporary social and political issues. It will join other significant artifacts in this gallery to showcase the importance of popular culture's influence on society. (Photo by Mark Avino)

This 3.4 meter (11-foot) model of the fictional Starship Enterprise will go on display in the reimagined Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. Star Trek pushed the boundaries of network television with its depiction of a mixed-sex, racially-integrated, multinational crew and its attention to contemporary social and political issues. It will join other significant artifacts in this gallery to showcase the importance of popular culture’s influence on society. (Photo by Mark Avino)

StarDate: 21 January 2015

Veterinary technicians Peter Flowers and Marilyn Small from the National Zoo are called on to assist their colleagues at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Mission:

To scan a #SeriouslyAmazing television icon: the Starship Enterprise from the original groundbreaking television series, Star Trek, which ran on NBC for three seasons beginning in 1966. Flowers and Small used a portable radiograph machine, which normally is used to take detailed digital images of animals during exams, to give Smithsonian conservation staff a peek inside the Enterprise. The digital radiographs will help museum specialists learn more about the icon’s construction as they work to restore the model.

Peter Flowers and Marilyn Small with the model of the Starship Enterprise at the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Jen Zoon)

Peter Flowers and Marilyn Small with the model of the Starship Enterprise at the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Jen Zoon)

Portable radiograph machine and model of the Starship Enterprise at the Air and Space Museum's Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory

Portable radiograph technology, usually used in veterinary exams at the National Zoo, was used to give conservators at the Air and Space Museum’s Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory insight into the construction of this model of Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise as it is prepared for display in the new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. (Photo courtesy of Jen Zoon)

 

The 3.4 meter (11-foot) model of the fictional Starship Enterprise will go on display in the reimagined Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. Despite its short initial run (only three seasons), Star Trek became one of the most popular shows in the history of television. The show’s depiction of a mixed-sex, racially-integrated, multinational crew and its attention to contemporary social and political issues pushed the boundaries of network television, earning Star Trek a dedicated fan base that lobbied for the franchise’s continuation.

Paramount Studios donated the model to the National Collection in 1974. It will join other significant artifacts to showcase the importance of popular culture’s influence on society.

 The other Enterprise

In 1976, a letter-writing campaign compelled NASA to name the inaugural (and test) space shuttle Enterprise after the fictional starship.

Cast of the original Star Trek television show and NASA officials with test space shuttle Enterprise in 1976.

In 1976, a letter-writing campaign compelled NASA to name the inaugural (and test) space shuttle Enterprise after the fictional starship. In this image, Enterprise is rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities with Star Trek television cast members and creator Gene Roddenberry in attendance.
From left to right: Dr. James C. Fletcher (NASA Administrator); DeForest Kelley (Dr. “Bones” McCoy); George Takei (Mr. Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (the indefatigable Mr. Spock); Gene Roddenberry (The Great Bird of the Galaxy); an unnamed official (probably from the NASA); and Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov). Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise was the centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s space collection at the Udvar-Hazy Center.  On April 12, 2011, NASA announced that Space Shuttle Discovery, the most traveled orbiter in the fleet, would be added to the collection once the Shuttle fleet was retired. On April 17, 2012, Discovery was transported by Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to Dulles from Kennedy Space Center, where it made several passes over the Washington D.C. metro area. Read more >>


Posted: 28 January 2015
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.