The Restoration of Star Trek's USS Enterprise in Pictures

Live long and prosper

National Air and Space Museum

To do the best job possible at restoration, specialists carefully disassembled the U.S.S. Enterprise into its various parts – saucer section, secondary hull, port and starboard nacelles (engine casings) and pylons (pillar-like support structures), deflector dish array, hangar bay doors and the bridge.

You will always be my friend

National Air and Space Museum

A collection of Trek fan photos of Enterprise over the years, which were used to inform the museum's restoration of the model.

Boldly shining in infrared

National Air and Space Museum

This image of the Enterprise in infrared shows off pencil marks that were put there during the Original Series run.

Admiral, there be glue here!

National Air and Space Museum

Aging, yellowing glue is visible inside of the model Enterprise. In some cases, glue is all that supports the interior, so the museum will support the structure using metal.

Interior 'wessel'

National Air and Space Museum

This shows the interior of the vessel's secondary hull, looking aft towards the hangar bay. ('Wessel' is a reference to a famous mispronunciation of the word "vessel" in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.)

Hailing frequencies open

National Air and Space Museum

Using what looks like a communicator – but is actually an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer – museum conservator Ariel O'Connor looks at the metal alloy used for the Enterprise's port engine casing.

Set painting to gray

National Air and Space Museum

Layers of paint cover much of the Enterprise from years of filming. These layers will be treated with a base color that will exactly match the original gray, which is preserved in a couple of small sections of the ship.

Enterprise in drydock

National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Museum specialist David Wilson searches for the exact color match of the "Star Trek" starship Enterprise studio model. The museum discovered the model's original grey paint was under the bolt cover of the model's saucer.

Activate lights, mister!

National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Museum specialists Zabih Sadighian (right) and Larry Berger proceed with initial testing of LED lighting strips hidden inside the "Star Trek" starship Enterprise studio model. They attempt to match the color temperature of the LEDs to photographs of the model from the 1960s. The system uses flexible RGB LED NeoPixel strips that the specialists can adjust and program remotely, allowing them to control the intensity, color temperature, and blink pattern to duplicate the original visual effects seen in the series.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: