The Derelict is the informal designation for the crashed Juggernaut-type Engineer spacecraft discovered on LV-426. Some time in 2122, a warning signal being broadcast from the Derelict was detected by Weyland-Yutani and the commercial hauler USCSS Nostromo was subsequently sent to investigate, without the knowledge of its crew. The ship was believed to have crashed on LV-426 several millennia prior to the arrival of the Nostromo.
The Derelict was thought to have been destroyed in 2179 when the Atmosphere Processor at the nearby colony of Hadley's Hope exploded, but it in fact survived the blast and was later home to an extensive Weyland-Yutani research camp, known as the Origin facility.
The Derelict is a large, asymmetrical, wishbone-shaped craft, with a thickened central section between two horns. The port prong measures 161.6 meters in length and the starboard prong 174.3 meters. The craft is 116.6 meters wide and 61.0 meters wide between the starboard and port prongs, according to official historical records. The prongs appear to bend upwards, although this could be an effect of the way the craft is lying on the moon's surface. On one side, near ground level, the ship has three large openings. It is through one of these openings that the Nostromo crew members Dallas Arthur, Joan Lambert and Gilbert Kane entered the ship as part of their investigation. The exact nature of the openings is unclear, although Kane theorized that they were in fact airlocks, possibly left open following some kind of emergency evacuation from the ship.
The interior of the Derelict resembles more a living organism than a spacegoing vessel, with walls and vaulted ceilings seemingly made of bone, and many organic shapes and structures in its passageways. Indeed, Kane additionally suggested that the ship may have been a biological construct, "grown" rather than built by the race that created it. During their exploration, the Nostromo crew surveyed only one small part of the vessel, although exactly what part of the ship this was remains unclear. However, it is generally accepted that Dallas and the others found the ship's cockpit, as well as a cavernous cargo hold beneath. However, later studies found the ship contained numerous very large internal compartments and numerous cargo bays.
The cargo hold explored by Kane was found to contain thousands of Xenomorph Eggs, covered in a thin, flat layer of blue mist that reacted when broken. It has been theorized that this mist is generated by the Eggs themselves as a means to detect the presence of a suitable host lifeform, although it has also been suggested that it may be some form of security mechanism created by the Engineers to keep the Eggs subdued and inert. Ridley Scott states during the Director's Commentary on the Alien Special Edition DVD that the eggs are the cargo of the Space Jockey's ship with the ship being a sort-of war ship designed to carry these biological weapons, or perhaps a science vessel carrying the eggs as cargo for scientific study.
It is unclear how many crew members were originally aboard the Derelict. When it was discovered by the Nostromo crew, only a single body, assumed to be that of the pilot, remained on board. By this time, the body was fossilized, indicating it had been dead for thousands if not millions of years, and was fused to the command chair in which it sat. Damage to the Pilot's chest indicated it had been killed by a Chestburster.
The origins of the Derelict and the Engineer who piloted it remain unknown. However, judging by the fossilized condition of the Pilot's corpse, the ship had been on LV-426 for potentially millions of years. The ship apparently crashed on the moon
Following its discovery by the Nostromo, the vessel went undisturbed for some 57 years, during which time the colony of Hadley's Hope was established on LV-426. Following the rescue of Ellen Ripley from deep space, information taken from her testimony of the Nostromo's landing on the moon allowed Hadley's Hope prospectors Russ and Anne Jorden to rediscover the ship. The discovery of the Derelict's cargo initiated a large-scale Xenomorph infestation at the colony that ultimately led to the meltdown and detonation of the Hadley's Hope Atmosphere Processor. However, the Derelict was largely undamaged by the explosion.
Following the loss of Hadley's Hope, a research facility known as Origin was established by Weyland-Yutani around the Derelict, and Weyland-Yutani scientists immediately began studying both the vessel and Xenomorphs bred from Eggs found on board. Numerous smaller, portable research labs were set up within the Derelict itself. However, Marines from the USS Sephora eventually sabotaged the facility's security systems as part of an ongoing conflict with Weyland-Yutani, causing Xenomorphs to rapidly overrun the base. The inside of the Derelict was turned into a Hive and numerous Weyland-Yutani scientists were cocooned within and impregnated with Chestbursters.
Behind the ScenesEdit
According to the book Giger's Alien, the Xenomorph Eggs were originally meant to be housed in a completely separate architectural structure, shaped in the form of a massive Pyramid. This would imply the previous existence of a native civilization, wiped out by their reverence for the creatures.
More than 100 prop Eggs were created for the scene of Kane's exploration of the "cave" under the Derelict. One special hero-Egg prop was created with a top that could peel open using hydraulics. The scene of Kane being attacked was filmed on September 10, 1978.
Ridley Scott wanted an early warning system around the Alien Eggs that would signal them to the approach of a possible host organism. This effect was achieved through the use of a blue scanning laser that was projected through smoke to highlight the apparent membrane covering the eggs. The laser used was loaned to Scott by the rock group The Who.
Ridley Scott has stated in respect to the production of Alien that he wanted to make "a slasher movie in space". The Derelict is intended as an updated version of "a dark, old, haunted house", as is the Nostromo.
- In Aliens: Colonial Marines, should the player shoot the head of the Space Jockey corpse inside the Derelict, 2 small holographic ships will appear in the room and engage in a dogfight overhead.