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The first model of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the starship that appeared in the opening credits of the original “Star Trek” television series, has been returned to Eugene Roddenberry Jr., the son of the creator of the series, decades after it went missing.

“After a long journey, she’s home,” Mr. Roddenberry wrote on social media on Thursday.

For die-hard Trekkies, the model’s disappearance had become the subject of folklore, so an eBay listing last fall, with a starting bid of $1,000, didn’t go unnoticed.

“Red alert,” someone in an online costume and prop-making forum wrote, linking to the listing.

Mr. Roddenberry’s father, Gene Roddenberry, created the television series, which first aired in 1966 and ran for three seasons. It spawned numerous spinoffs, several films and a franchise that has included conventions and legions of devoted fans with an avid interest in memorabilia.

The seller of the model was bombarded with inquiries and quickly took the listing down.

The seller contacted Heritage Auctions to authenticate it, the auction house’s executive vice president, Joe Maddalena, said on Saturday. As soon as the seller, who said he had found it in a storage unit, brought it to the auction house’s office in Beverly Hills, Calif., Mr. Maddalena said he knew it was real.

“That’s when I reached out to Rod to say, ‘We’ve got this. This is it,’” he said, adding that the model was being transferred to Mr. Roddenberry.

Mr. Roddenberry, who is known as Rod, said on Saturday that he would restore the model and seek to have it displayed in a museum or other institution. He said reclaiming the item had only piqued his interest in the circumstances about its disappearance.

“Whoever borrowed it or misplaced it or lost it, something happened somewhere,” he said. “Where’s it been?”

It was unclear how the model ended up in the storage unit and who had it before its discovery.

The original U.S.S. Enterprise, a 33-inch model, was mostly made of solid wood by Richard C. Datin, a model maker for the Howard Anderson Company, a special-effects company that created the opening credits for some of the 20th century’s biggest TV shows.

An enlarged 11-foot model was used in subsequent “Star Trek” television episodes, and is now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where it was donated by Paramount Studios in 1974.

Mr. Roddenberry, who said he gave the seller a “reward” for its recovery but did not disclose the terms, assembled a group of “Star Trek” production veterans, model makers and restoration specialists in Beverly Hills to authenticate the find.

The group included a “Star Trek” art supervisor, Michael Okuda, and his wife, Denise, an artist on “Star Trek” television series and films, and Gary Kerr, a “Trek x-pert” who served as technical consultant for the Smithsonian during a 2016 restoration of the 11-foot model.

“We spent at least an hour photographing it, inspecting the paint, inspecting the dirt, looking under the base, the patina on the stem, the grain in the wood,” Mr. Roddenberry said.

“It was a unanimous ‘This is 100 percent the one,’” he said.

Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991, kept the original model, which appeared in the show’s opening credits and pilot episode, on his desk.

Mr. Kerr compared the model to 1960s photos he had of the model on Mr. Roddenberry’s desk.

“The wood grain matched exactly, so that was it,” he said on Saturday.

The model went missing after Mr. Roddenberry lent it to the makers of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” which was released in 1979, Mr. Maddalena said.

“This is a major discovery,” he said, likening the model to the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” a prop that was stolen in 2005 and recovered by the F.B.I. in 2018, and that Heritage Auctions is selling.

While the slippers represent hope, he said, the starship Enterprise model “represents dreams.”

“It’s a portal to what could be,” he said.

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