'Building Star Trek' Documentary Shows Efforts to Save Original Enterprise Model

Original USS Enterprise model
Curators from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum restored the original 11-foot (3.4 meters) model of the USS Enterprise, used in filming "Star Trek: The Original Series," as depicted in a new Smithsonian documentary, "Building Star Trek." (Image credit: Smithsonian Channel)

A new Smithsonian Channel special gives Trekkies an unprecedented view of the efforts to save the USS Enterprise from certain death. The documentary shows museum officials fighting against decades of damages to fix the 11-foot (3.4 meters) "Star Trek" ship model, used in filming the original series, before putting the ship on display.

In between exclusive clips at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, the documentary — called "Building Star Trek" — also shows the construction of a new "Star Trek" exhibit at the EMP Museum in Seattle, featuring props used in the original series.

The special airs Sept. 4, just four days before the 50-year anniversary of the first broadcast of "Star Trek." Besides showcasing awesome props, the show has inspired nearly two generations of scientific innovation, the documentary reveals. 

"The 2-hour special also profiles a new generation of engineers and scientists who are making 'Star Trek's' visionary technology real, pushing the boundaries of physics with inventions first conceived on the iconic series: warp drives, medical tricorders, cloaking devices and tractor beams," Smithsonian representatives said in a statement.  

More information on the documentary is available on the Smithsonian Channel's website: http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/building-star-trek/0/3436402

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, 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 (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace