- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thanks to the work of Smithsonian conservators, it appears that the original Starship Enterprise from the 1960s TV series “Star Trek” will indeed live long and prosper.

Trekkies were giddy with excitement this week as the fully restored Enterprise returned to a display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in the District.

Air and Space Museum curator Margaret Weitekamp said the coolest feature by far on the remodeled Enterprise is the installation of LED lights that replace the long-gone incandescent bulbs, which scorched the poplar wood inside the model’s “nacelles,” or engine pods.

“For a long time, I was reluctant to relight it. At some point someone turned the flashlight on their phone on and stuck their phone inside the model … and it just took my breath away,” said Miss Weitekamp.

Museum visitors will be able to see the Enterprise’s nacelles light up at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day.

Another feature fixed by the ship’s advisory committee and conservators is the paint color. Controversy abounded last time the paint was updated; fans thought it was “too weathered” and the wrong color. Now, the ship sports a greenish color similar to the shade used for filming in 1967, even though the paint appeared gray or white on screen.

“We used the latest science and technology to do a thorough scientific analysis of the model. The paint color matches what is on top of the saucer, which was original to the model. We are confident that this is the color that the model was in production during filming in the mid-1960s,” said Miss Weitekamp.

The port side — which wasn’t actually used for filming back in the day — is much less decked out than the starboard side, which contains an interactive touch screen for visitors.

“Part of what we’re really pleased with is that it’s a literally a two-sided exhibit. In the camera facing side which is fully decorated and has lights … we are starting the conversation about [the future of living in space],” said Miss Weitekamp. “On the port side, which never faced the camera — in fact it had power lines that came out the back of the model — we are talking about the art of studio models.”

Tourists are expected to flock to D.C. at warp speed to see the remodeled Enterprise, as well as other air and space exhibits.

“We have artifacts from Sally Ride, the first [U.S.] woman in space, and she was also a fan of 'Star Trek.' We have a 'Star Trek' communicator pen that was given to her when the show premiered … She was invited to the premiere of the show that had the first female captain in the 'Star Trek' universe,” said Miss Weitekamp.

The resurgence of the Enterprise is part of the National Air and Space Museum’s 40th birthday celebration; visitors can come and partake in a Smithsonian-style slumber party.

“We are inviting people to come join us all night. [There will be] a film festival, special guests … It’s being webcasted by the museum and by C-SPAN 3,” Miss Weitekamp said.

The museum’s birthday celebration begins Friday at 8:30 p.m. with a ceremonial reopening of the building; doors open at 9 p.m.

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