Creating the Original Enterprise’s Shuttlebay

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

Jefferies recalled in an interview Star Trek: The Magazine published in April 2000 that 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 maquette (Star Trek: Communicator)

Richard C. Datin built the maquette. Star Trek: Communicator quoted him in 2001 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.


In his Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual (1975), Franz Joseph provides a cutaway of the hangar deck. It closely follows Jefferies’ concept art but fills in some additional detail, including a tractor beam and landing tractor beam room.

Enterprise hangar deck cutaway
Cutaway from Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual

Joseph identifies the little bump on the back of the ship as a homing beacon and navigational array.

Geoffrey Mandel, in the U.S.S. Enterprise Officer’s Manual (1980), makes it a one-person observation dome.

Enterprise flight deck control tower
Illustration from U.S.S. Enterprise Officer’s Manual


The remastered one looks cramped, even without a second shuttle. The depth is gone.

b003 (Jun 4, 2014)

I think that’s because the shot of the remastered one is looking down instead of up. You can’t see the high ceiling.

Moose (Feb 26, 2015)

Anyone have measurements for this? That would be great. Thanks!

Scott Trusty (Oct 22, 2014)

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 !

Tony (May 7, 2017)

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.

Fred Mushel (May 10, 2017)

Exactly! Well said, couldn’t agree more! Incoming G-7 was being brought in under tractor beam, which accounts for its perfect landing, as would be required in such a situation. Out there we just can’t have someone who says, “Oh, I got this!” and then they “touch” the side of the ship with the left or right front corner of the shuttle resulting in? All because they couldn’t put their dammed communicator down for 15 minutes to drive the dammed shuttle!

Jonathan Bolz (Feb 14, 2021)

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