Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Mystery Solved?

Being a Star Trek fan, I was aware of the fact that, sometime during the early stages of the production of 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the original 33-inch model of the U.S.S. Enterprise (used in the title sequence of the television show) had become lost. Gene Roddenberry had a sentimental attachment to the model and was keen to get it back, but, despite his best efforts, he was never able to do so. Its disappearance was thus one of big mysteries of Star Trek lore – that is, until the end of last month.

According to this article, a listing on eBay for a replica of the Enterprise caught the eyes of some fans, who suspected that it might well have been the model missing for nearly half a century. They contacted the seller with their suspicions, recommending he get in touch with Roddenberry's family about it. Soon thereafter, Roddenberry's son, Rod, issued the following statement:

“Along with much of the Star Trek community, I was excited and pleased to learn that the original 3-foot filming model of the Starship Enterprise appears to have been discovered after being missing for decades (pending full authentication). I can confirm that I am now, through an intermediary, in contact with the individual who possesses the model.

This prototype played a key role in the visualizing design of the famous television starship during Star Trek’s early development in 1964. Once the show went into production, the model was actually filmed in numerous visual effects shots seen throughout the life of the original Star Trek series, along with a larger, 12-foot model that is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I am convinced that this prototype model holds immense significance for Star Trek and its 58-year history. From its creation in the mid-60s until about 1977, the model was in the possession of my father, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Unfortunately, it went missing after being loaned out during the production of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Beyond its physical value, the greater significance is this prototype Enterprise model really represents the underpinning ideas my father imbued into the series. That we are clever, resilient and can learn from our mistakes. We can and will move beyond archaic belief systems. And once we truly embrace the infinite diversity all around us, both in form and idea, we will then take those next step into a prosperous and unlimited future.

Guided by this principle, one of my primary goals over the past decade has been to locate, recover, and digitally archive significant Star Trek materials and artifacts through the Roddenberry Archive project. The intention would be to scan it in the finest detail for the Roddenberry Archives and after rigorous scrutiny make it available to the public. Furthermore, I firmly believe that a piece of such importance should not be confined to any private collection. This iconic artifact should be enshrined along side the 12-foot shooting model at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where it can serve to help tell the story of television history, the history of space exploration and ultimately, a beacon of hope for the future.”

I'm quite curious to see how this story plays out. Growing up in Maryland, I regularly visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. A highlight of any such trip was seeing the 11-foot studio model of the Enterprise used for exterior shots in the 1960s TV series. Consequently, this story really piqued my interest. I imagine many of my readers will feel the same way.


  1. "We can and will move beyond archaic belief systems"
    Hmmm.... can't say I'm for that statement.

    1. Agreed. Has not aged well. Some of those “archaic” belief systems are looking far superior at this point.

  2. For my part, I am generally against archaic belief systems. Live long and prosper.

  3. I think he was talking about the archaic belief systems of the ADnD alignment system. :-; But I'm sure he meant religion.

  4. Waitwut ? What 'archaic belief systems' are we talking about here, *specifically* ? And especially the ones that are supposedly 'far superior' at the moment, or the ones we need to 'move beyond' ?