Original Enterprise shuttlebay

Creating the Original Enterprise’s Shuttlebay

Matt Jefferies had anticipated the need for a flight or hangar deck when he designed the original Enterprise, providing space in the aft section of the engineering hull for just such a location. But when the episode “The Galileo Seven” was supposed to unveil it, there was no way budget would allow for a full-scale set of bay to be built.

Jefferies recalled in an interview with Star Trek: The Magazine (April 2000) years later how the “curved clamshell doors at the back” of the ship “didn’t look too much different from a lot of today’s modern hangars on the inside.” He took care to scale the bay’s design to the shuttlecraft that were supposed to fit in it. “The shuttlebay itself was only in miniature.”

Shuttlebay maquette
Richard Datin’s shuttlebay maquette (Star Trek: Communicator)

Richard C. Datin was commissioned to build the maquette. Star Trek: Communicator (June/July 2001) quotes him explaining how the starboard side of the miniature was supposed to be removable, so the scene could be filmed from more than one side.

However, for whatever reason, the starboard wall was not made to be removable and filming of the miniature could only be done looking back to the clamshell bay doors.

Hence the familiar scene from “The Galileo Seven.”

The clamshell doors were hand-operated, as were cables that controlled the revolving platform in the center of the set. Footage shot at Dunn’s Film Effects was replicated throughout the rest of the series whenever a scene called for it. The maquette was probably destroyed.

CGI facelift

When the episodes of the The Original Series were digitally remastered in 2006, the shuttlebay scenes were replaced with CGI imagery.

Max Gabl did the matte painting, which premiered in the remastered version of “Journey to Babel.” Much more detail can be seen and the access corridors to the sides of the landing bay are extended.

In the remastered version of “The Galileo Seven,” a second shuttlecraft was inserted to make the scene visually more interesting.

5 thoughts on “Creating the Original Enterprise’s Shuttlebay

  1. The remastered CGI effects of the shuttlecraft itself are spot on, but the shuttlecraft hanger deck was much too small to scale, the 24 foot shuttle literally looks massive in size to the hangar. This reworking should have utilized the size factor compared to the original footage, for wherever reason the CBS CGI people ignored that !
    The worst CGI takeoff being Matt Decker’s in the Doomsday Machine which actually looks so awkward and uncharacteristic, the oversized shuttle almost hits the bay doors !

  2. I prefer the original miniature over the CG version as the CG version was overall smaller than the miniature in regard to the size of the shuttlecraft and the turntable compared to the overall size of the “hanger deck” itself. In addition I also preferred the way the shuttlecraft “took off” and landed in the miniature than in the CG version.

    Even the CG Enterprise, to me, does not look as good or three dimensional as the better footage filmed of the completely lit 11 foot model, such as scenes in episodes “The Galileo Seven,” “Space Seed,” “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” “The Doomsday Machine,” etc.

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