Mother Ship Model,


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Rockets and Missiles exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

This is the model of the alien Mother Ship used in the filming of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (Columbia Pictures, 1977). The ship was conceived by Steven Spielberg, the film's director and screenwriter. It was made by a team headed by Gregory Jein, using model train parts and other kits. When filmed with special photographic and lighting effects, the model appears to be a huge, hovering craft. Rotating, colored lights underneath the ship added to its effects.

Looking closely at the model, one can find tiny hidden smaller models which are not seen when the Mother Ship appears in the film. These models were added by the model makers as internal "jokes." They include a Volkswagen bus, a submarine, the R2-D2 android, a U.S. mailbox, an aircraft, and a small cemetery plot.

Collection Item Long Description:



Inventory Number


Country of Origin

United States of America


Wood, plastic, and metal


Length, 63 inches; width, 38 inches; weight, shipping, 400 pounds; case: 74 x 74 inches

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum



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