Star Trek's Galileo Seeks Out New Life and New Civilizations ... in Santa Ana
A Santa Ana movie prop company has gone where no Santa Ana movie prop company has gone before.
Propworx Inc. on Dyer Road recently won an auction for the Galileo shuttlecraft from the original Star Trek, according to Starfleet International, the world's largest and oldest fan club forever geeked by the 1966-69 television series.
Starfleet pegged the final price at $61,000 but reported it will take another $100,000 to bring the mock shuttle back to its former glory. Restoration funded by a nonprofit Propworx manages is under way, according to the fan club.
Named after 16th and 17th century physicist, mathematician and astronomer Galileo
Galilei, the Galileo NCC-1701/7 was one of four shuttlecraft carried aboard the fictional U.S.S. Enterprise.
"Dammit, Spock, I'm not a shuttlecraft pilot, I'm a doctor!"
It was referred to in episode 13 ("The Conscience of the King") but not shown due to the cost to build it. Instead, Capt. James Tiberius Kirk takes Lenore Karidian to the observation corridor that overlooks the shuttlecraft's empty hangar deck. Designed by production designer Walter "Matt" Jefferies, who also drew the specs for the iconic Enterprise, Galileo showed up for the first time in episode 14 ("The Galileo Seven"). Galileos was "destroyed" as part of the plots of later episodes, leading to replacement crafts.
After Star Trek's cancellation in 1969, Paramount donated the Galileo to the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, intending that it become a plaything for children. Ironically, the hobby kit model version of the Galileo did not hit stores until 1974, an early clue that the show had a shelf life (and cult following) exceeding the original three-year run on NBC.
The years after the shuttlecraft was donated included many ownership changes, many years of neglect in the open elements and even some Christ-like missing years, according to a fascinating series of posts on the Propworx site.
When the Braille Institute worried that a kid might get hurt climbing onto the mock craft, it was sold to Roger Hiseman, who wanted it for his older son. But the shuttle was kept on his front yard, prompting petitions for its removal by his Palos Verdes neighbors who considered it an eyesore.
A fellow named Stephen Haskins then purchased it from Hisemen and spent another $8,500 to restore it before it was unveiled at the 1986 California Creation Convention, which included a salute to the 20th anniversary of Star Trek's television debut.
Galileo under construction in Phoenix for TV's original Star Trek
Courtesy of Propworx
But when the Galileo was not on display, it was kept in the outdoors, where it was exposed to the elements and had to be restored twice more. Its homes included an RV storage lot in Palm Springs, where it grew rust and at one point was even filled with sand.
Lynne Miller of Akron, Ohio, bought it for $3,000 in 1989 with plans to restore the shuttle once more so it could be displayed next to the Enterprise shooting model at the National Air & Space Museum.
Miller paid to move the Galileo by flatbed from Palm Springs to Akron, and she raised funds for the restoration at fan conventions, where she also sold t-shirts and displayed photos of the early restoration work in a hangar at the Akron-Canton Airport through the early 1990s.
But in 1993, Miller and the restoration team she hired had a falling out and parted ways. Bill Krause, who led that restoration, has said his team had the Galileo 85 percent restored at that point. Here is a video on that project:
The hangar was demolished soon after Miller and the restoration team split, and where the Galileo wound up after the dust settled remains a mystery. Then, fan Phil Broad reported on his Galileo fan page Cloudster.com that the owner had taken the craft to an Akron sandblasting company intending to have work done on it.
When Miller never returned, the sandblaster figured she'd abandoned the shuttle. It remained unclaimed at a storage lot for at least five years before a Star Trek fan just happened to stumble upon the Galileo in 2009 and helped rally others to try to save it. But the storage lot went out of business and had to clear out the property the following year.
The craft disappeared again, and when fears were expressed that it may have been destroyed, Star Trek collectors and restorers were lobbied to create a new Galileo from scratch.
Fortunately, the shuttle was located in Ohio, and with Propworx now in the pilot's seat, support (financial and otherwise) is being sought to restore the Galileo permanently. A kickstarter campaign is in the works. Fans can monitor the progress via the Propworx site, GalileoRestoration.com or the Starfleet site.
The project is not in idle hands this time. Propworx founder and CEO Alec Peters is considered one of the top collectors of Star Trek props and costumes, something he heartily blogs about. With a restoration team that includes Battlestar Galactica designers and builders, Peters has three stated goals:
- Restore the Galileo in the most professional and accurate way possible.
- Make the Galileo available for fans to see and tour for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek (in 2016).
- Find a permanent home for the Galileo in a museum that will guarantee she is always available for public viewing in a safe, indoor environment.
Starfleet couldn't be happier.
"Personally, I think that this is a great opportunity to see a piece of television history restored to its original glory," says Dave Blaser, president of Starfleet International, "and I'm really glad that Starfleet is being given this opportunity to be a part of this project, and hopefully to become at least a small part of television nostalgia."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.