The Galileo At Houston Space Center


The Galileo has a long history including total abandonment and two attempts at restoration. It was originally left outside as junk for several years before someone took an interest in it.


Last October while working as a shelter volunteer for the American Red Cross, I was able to visit the Houston Space Center on my day off. The Houston Space Center is the public touristy part of the Johnson Space Center where most NASA spacecraft are controlled once they leave the launch pad somewhere else like Cape Kennedy. It is also the home of the shuttlecraft Galileo. Or what’s left of it.

The Galileo has a long history including total abandonment and two attempts at restoration. It was originally left outside as junk for several years before someone took an interest in it.

It was purchased, and passed through a couple of owners. At some point a partial restoration was undertaken and in 2013 a thorough rebuild was done at a boat builder in New Jersey. Although the publicity surrounding it says that as much of the original as possible was preserved, both the interior frame and all the panelling were rebuilt from scratch. So what we have is akin to grandpa’s axe, which has had both its head and handle replaced. Still it is grandpa’s axe, and this is the Galileo. At least we know the dimensions are accurate.


The Galileo was then taken to Houston for permanent display at the Space Center. It was brought to New York last year to be part of the USS Intrepid’s exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, then returned to Houston.

When I went to find it at the Space Center, I had to ask where it was, as it was not mentioned in any of the guides or publicity from the Space Center. I was directed to where it was . . . in a corner of the cafeteria.


The Galileo sits uncerimoniously near glass doors in the corner of the cafeteria.


The Galileo sits near a large set of glass doors that admit direct sunlight, which I suspect will affect the paint in the long run. It is roped off, but close enough that one can touch it (Yes. I did). The corner that is easily reach is developing a layer of grime from all the touching. I suppose we should be glad that that many people want to touch this part of Trek history.

There are also some small areas where the paint is beginning to crack. The original was not made to last beyond a couple shooting seasons, and it apparently does not like being transported across the country without benefit of hovercraft technology.

It is nice to know that the Galileo is protected and indoors. It just needs to be better taken care of.

Willie Yee

#Galileo #restoration #Space #StarTrek

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