Hanging Out with the Original Starship Enterprise Filming Model

Every deep sci-fi/Star Trek nerd needs to watch this episode of Tested where Adam Savage meets with Dr. Margaret Weitekamp of the Space History Dept at the Smithsonian Astronaut to take a detailed 35-minute tour of the filming model of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original series. They are also joined by former NASA astronaut, Cady Coleman.

Designed by Walter “Matt” Jefferies (hello, Jefferies tubes!) and built in 1964 by model-maker Richard C. Datin, the mainly wooden model was eventually gifted by Paramount Studios to the Smithsonian in 1974.

There are lots of lovely details in this video, including Dr. Weitekamp’s description of how the restoration dream team came together to work out how best preserve and upgrade (all of the inner electronics) and some of the challenges and techniques used in that process (e.g. borrowing an X-ray machine from the National Zoo to get a peek inside the model).

In discussing the ships unique design, Dr. Weitekamp points out that it was designed to look like it wouldn’t hold up in Earth’s 1 g, that it needed to look like something that had been built in space.

She also talks about how they open-sourced the investigation and restoration. She went to sci-fi conventions and reported on the stages of the process, and they put the details of the restoration up on their website, right down to all of the colors of paint used in re-painting process.

In the beginning, Adam hints that there might be another video about the model. I hope so.

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