By John Burton
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Thanks to the passion of an avid fan and the work of a borough business specializing in repairing and restoring boats, another kind of vessel – this one from the original Star Trek TV series – will have a chance to “live long and prosper.”
Adam Schneider and the owner and workers from Master Shipwrights, 25 West Highland Ave., were joined by hundreds of fans and friends Saturday, June 22, for the unveiling of the newly restored Galileo. The prop shuttle spaceship was used in about seven episodes during the series’ 1967 season to transport crew members from the fictional U.S.S. Starship Enterprise as they traveled through the distant galaxies, encountering adventures and friendly and warlike aliens, offering a look at what the future might hold.
Schneider, a Long Branch resident who previously described himself as “a science fiction kind of guy,” bought the approximately 24-foot, mostly wooden faux spaceship for $70,000 from an Ohio auction house. The Galileo was in terrible condition when he bought it, having changed ownership over the years; it had been sitting in an Ohio backyard for a number of years, exposed to the elements.
After some initial research, Schneider hired Master Shipwrights to restore the prop to its former science-fiction glory, he said.
Schneider declined to say how much the restoration project finally cost.
“This is amazing for a 47-year-old … something,” Schneider said as he stood with his wife Leslie and looked at the completed project. A person in the audience immediately responded “… history.”
“The truth is, this is basically, unprecedented,” said Schneider, calling the piece “probably the most significant prop in TV history.
“This is done for the fans,” he said of the craft now completely restored and in pristine condition.
Schneider has donated the Galileo to the Space Center Houston, Texas, the Visitor Center for NASA to ensure that fans will have a chance to see it themselves.
“This is the linkage between science fiction and space reality,” he said, where visitors and their imaginations can go beyond the stars.
The Galileo will be on permanent display at the visitor center following the dedication, scheduled for July 31, he said.
People in Saturday’s crowd, many in costumes evoking the hugely popular series, offered smiles and encouragement.
“I think she turned out great,” said Dave Lynch, Cheltenham, Pa., who was wearing what is probably best described as a dress uniform for an Enterprise crew member.
Lynch, who is a member of the New Brunswick chapter of Star Fleet International, a Star Trek fan club, said the continuing appeal of the show is about “promoting a possible future,” that includes space exploration.
“I feel its premise is what can be,” offered Jeff Victor, a member of USS Challenger, the Ocean-Monmouth counties chapter of Starfleet, the international Star Trek fan association, who was wearing a yellow starship uniform shirt. “Even though it’s fiction, it’s worth aspiring to.”