August 25, 2013 at 6:55 AM
LIVINGSTON, NJ – Thanks to Livingston resident Adam Schneider, the vintage Star Trek shuttle prop known as Galileo, recently found a new home at Space Center Houston - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) visitor center in Houston Texas. Schneider recently spent over $61,000 of his own money to purchase and restore it.
Through his connections in the ‘Trekkie’ community, Schneider located the Galileo space craft at an auction in Ohio and decided to bid on it. Schneider won the bid and paid $61,000 to purchase the almost full-size shuttle (approximately 24 feet long, 14 feet wide and 7 feet tall).
“I’ve been active in the Star Trek community for many years. This is the oldest and probably the most important prop out in the wild,” said Schneider.
Schneider also said that the prop had been missing for over 20 years and that many had tried locating it through Google Earth images. When it went up for auction, the missing piece immediately became visible. “As someone involved in the community, I saw an opportunity to do something positive with it (the Galileo) rather than let it deteriorate. It’s essentially for the fans and community.”
Schneider received the life-like shuttle in less than perfect condition. The prop that is now almost 50 years old was only meant to last a few seasons on the show. As he sought to restore the vintage TV prop, Schneider starting researching restoration solutions and contacting industry professionals.
One such consultant included Gene Winfield, who built the Galileo in 1966. Winfield suggested that a boat restorer might be the best fit and Master Shipwrights in Atlantic Highlands, was chosen for the job. “They had the right facilities and expertise,’ explained Schneider.
Fun and entertaining for the fans? Sure. But why did Schneider really feel the need to spend so much on a TV prop?
“It’s a very unique situation because it’s a 50 year old TV show and a 50 year old prop. Good old Star Trek was on during the space race – before we even decided to do the space shuttle. It inspired a group of engineers and scientists,” explained Schneider.
“Hopefully we can inspire the next generation of youth to do the engineering for future space exploration.”
“(The vision of Star Trek) was our way of linking the thought of ‘I want to go into space,’ with making it a reality,” said Schneider. “It’s fictional but it’s a theory of the future.”
While Schneider funded the purchase and restoration of the Galileo, NASA handled the acquisition and shipping of the prop to its space center in Houston. The restored Galileo is now resting at its new home while the organization is prepping to build a formal display featuring Galileo aboard the Star Trek Enterprise.