by staff writer Michael Brown
Two Star Trek fans have finished what others have tried and failed to do before: breathing new life into a piece of science-fiction history. Adam Schneider and Alec Peters, two uber-Trekkies, have completed the first successful restoration of the life size Shuttlecraft Galileo, the venerable 24 foot long set featured on classic Star Trek.
“It’s really the biggest surviving movie or TV set probably of the modern era,” Peters said. “We looked for this for two years, and we finally were able to find it in its decrepit shape. It was important to preserve it because it is a piece of not just TV history, but our space program’s history.”
Before Schneider and Peters, other fans tried to restore Galileo but nothing permanent ever came of the attempts. Schneider, a collector of spaceship miniatures, won the set piece, being stored in Ohio at the time, in an online auction in June 2012. Since then, it has been his mission to restore the shuttle that transported Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew to alien worlds during its five-year mission and has since been sitting rotted, broken, and battered. Set pieces like Galileo were made to be dismantled and torn apart at the end of shooting so the shuttle was definitely not built to last. Schneider said by the time he started restoring the fictional spacecraft, its metal framework was rapidly disintegrating.
Desperately searching for the perfect place to help bring Galileo back to life, Schneider eventually came across a boat restoration organization in his home state of New Jersey. Master Shipwrights, ship-restorers-turned-Federation-shipyard, knew exactly how to repair Galileo to make the venerable old workhorse last. “If you looked pre-restoration, all you would do is cry,” Schneider said. “When you look at the ‘post,’ you can see what the original design and intent was.”
Fans of the show and regular science-fiction fans around the world have been paying close attention to the efforts of the two Trekkies and their mission to restore Galileo, e-mailing Peters and Schneider photos and technical specifications of the shuttle to aid in the restoration process. A fan in Las Vegas allowed Peters to measure an original piece of the ship the fan won at an auction in order to be sure that part of the ship is true to its original form. “The Galileo was such an important part of Star Trek and not just Star Trek but literally the consciousness of the space program,” Peters said. Schneider added that the term “space shuttle” actually started with Galileo. NASA had never used the term “space shuttle” prior to the introduction of the shuttlecraft on the show in 1966.
After nine months of restoration, the newly reborn Galileo shuttlecraft was publicly unveiled last week in a ceremony amid loud cheers from a crowd of Star Trek fans and friends on hand to see the ship before its sendoff to its final frontier. It shipped off Space Center Houston, the visitor’s center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on Wednesday.
“Star Trek is supposed to be our future in space,” Schneider said. “It is not fictional — it is, of course — but it isn’t intended to be a galaxy far, far away. It is intended to be what we do on this planet with our capabilities over the next few hundred years, and as such, it’s inspiring.”
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Michael Brown is a comics nerd and a father who lives in small town Tennessee. When he’s not making his players mad in his “Shadowrun” RPG or experimenting with new and inventive uses of duct tape on his children, you can find him checking out the latest comics and movies for SCIFI.radio!