'Star Trek' Galileo shuttle arrives at NASA space center in Houston
A nearly full-size shuttle, Galileo made its "Star Trek" debut in Jan. 1967, in an episode called "The Galileo Seven." After the show shut down, Paramount Studios donated the prop to a school. The shuttle then somehow passed between owners for years before surfacing at an auction house in 2012. "Star Trek" fan and collector Adam Schneider heard about the shuttle and purchased it for $61,000.
But Schneider never had any intention of hiding away the Galileo, now that he had found it. The Trekkie told USA Today: "My plan was always to take one for the community. I wanted to buy it, fix it and donate it where people can see it."
That's what he did, but it wasn't an easy process. Built of wood and metal, the shuttle was in terrible shape after five decades on the road. Schneider ended up taking it to a boat restorer in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, this was just a week before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Restoration was stymied for quite awhile after the shop took on four feet of storm water that destroyed many tools and other equipment. Then restoration began again.
After shopping the restored Galileo shuttle to many air and space museums, Schneider found the prop's new home with NASA. The national space agency at least had enough room for a 22-foot-long and 8-foot-high, solid shuttle. Even though the Galileo is a part of science fiction and not science fact, NASA wanted to acknowledge the close relationship between sci-fi ideas and real advances in space science.
"If someone told me as a little kid watching 'Star Trek' hoping to be an astronaut that I would donate a spacecraft to NASA, I would have thought 'That can't happen,''' said Schneider.