The USCSS Nostromo was a Weyland-Yutani Lockmart CM 88B Bison M-Class starfreighter used as a commercial hauler between Thedus and Earth. The Nostromo carried (or rather pulled) a massive refinery behind it for processing over 20 million raw tons of ore on the long trip to Earth. This refinery is never actually inhabited, as even the Xenomorph remained on the Nostromo itself. In effect, the Nostromo was more of a tug or a tractor truck rather than a freighter. One of the opening screens shows the computer waking-up and a console reads 'CAPACITY. 200 000 000 TONNES', which means that, even with the weight of the refining equipment factored on top of the load of ore, the Nostromo was likely not hauling its full potential capacity.
On 3rd June 2122, the Nostromo set down on LV-426 and was subsequently boarded by a lone Xenomorph that killed all but one of the starfreighter's crew. The remaining surviving crew members ultimately decided on destroying the Nostromo in order to kill the Xenomorph. Only Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley and Jones, the ship's cat, escaped the destruction of the vessel in the shuttlecraft Narcissus.
The ship had an onboard artificial intelligence computer, MU-TH-UR, which communicated with the crew through the intercom system or a special interface room only accessible to the officer currently in overall command of the ship. MU-TH-UR piloted the ship while the crew were in hypersleep and monitored their activities.
The ship had numerous industrial areas, a central eating area, a hypersleep chamber, a kitchen, the cockpit and an infirmary. The ship had a nuclear reactor power source that held at least three reactors, possibly four, due to the large power requirements of the refinery the Nostromo carried.
The ship also had a self destruct system whereby the cooling unit for the ship's nuclear reactor would be turned off and the nuclear core would overheat after a 10 minute countdown. The explosion could only be stopped if the cooling system was turned back on before a 5-minute point of no return. The self-destruct system could only be turned on or off after following a somewhat complicated sequence — this was done so that the system could not accidentally be activated. Ripley activated the self-destruct system in an attempt to kill the Alien, but, after subsequently being cutoff from the Narcisuss lifeboat by the creature, she attempted to re-engage the cooling system to give herself more time. Unfortunately, the lengthy sequence prevented Ripley from reactivating the cooling unit before the 5-minute-mark and the ship was ultimately lost.
The Nostromo consisted of three decks, A, B and C. A Deck contained the main crew areas, including the hypersleep chamber, the central dining area, the medical and science lab and the vessel's cockpit. B and C Decks were the industrial bowels of the ship, consisting mainly the mechanical and electrical equipment necessary for the ship's function. It was on these lower decks that the Xenomorph tended to stay whilst on board. Ironically, B and C Decks' internal sensors were damaged when landing on LV-426 and Captain Dallas ultimately decided to take off without repairing them. Had the decision been made to repair the sensors first, the crew may have had more success against the Alien.
- Dallas Arthur — Captain
- Gilbert Kane — Executive Officer
- Ellen Ripley — Third Officer
- Ash — Science Officer
- Joan Lambert — Navigator
- Dennis Parker — Chief Engineer
- Samuel Brett — Engineering Technician
- Jones — Ship's cat
Energy and propulsionEdit
The USCSS Nostromo's power core is a Laretel WF-15 2.8 terawatt fusion reactor. The fusion process is a deuterium/tritium reaction that can fuse the fuel elements in a containment chamber using conversion lasers. The He4 byproduct of the reaction is kept separately and is vented at regular intervals. The power is drawn off of the reactor by a closed-cycle liquid potassium cooling system. Running off into an induction torus which can use the intense magnetic field created by the superheated potassium to generate electric power. The ship may be destroyed by an authorized crewmember by overriding the reactor cooling system and bleed off coolant, which initiates a supercritical reaction in the containment area. After the activation of the self-destruct device, the crew has ten minutes to get far enough from the ship before it's reactor explodes.
The supralight drive is a Yutani T7A NLS tachyon shunt which is capable of unladen high cruise up to 0.42 ly per sidereal day (153 cee). When it is towing large amounts of cargo such as automated refineries, the maximum sustainable cruise speed drops radically, about 0.1-0.12 ly per sidereal day (40-45 cee). For maneuvering at sublight speeds when towing large amounts of cargo, the immensely powerful mass reaction engines are required. On the M-Class, the original Saturn J-3000 engines have been replaced to two Rolls-Royce N66 Cyclone thrust tunnels with bipolar vectoring for midline lifting functions. Each of the powerplants develop a 65,830 metric ton of thrust, using water for reaction mass. When running wideopen, both of the engines give a high impulse thrust totaling of 131,660 kN.
Control and systemsEdit
The in-flight systems are all controlled by the central MU-TH-UR 6000 "Mother" processor. Mother is a 2.1 Terabyte intelligent mainframe which monitors all of the ship's flight and autonomic functions. A 2.0 Terabyte backup mainframe comes on line in an event of a CPU failure, and a third tier of automatics is also capable of sustaining an autonomic functions should the backup fail as well.
The communications fit is standard, it comprises 10 and 4 meter hyperstate antennas for any interstellar communications and short-range UHF/VHF/HF radio/video links. The sensors are mounted on pylons which are clustered around the forward hull of the ship and have two 2 m aperture telescopes which are capable of optical, spectrographic and infrared resolution; a gas chromatograph; centimetric navigation and landing radar; a synthetic aperture ground mapping radar; and a mass counter for supralight navigation.
The life systems comprise of three decks, which include the bridge, crew quarters, and dining area. Others include the science station, the CPU module, medical bays, four main cargo bays, storing areas, and the engineering stations. All of these compromise 1.1 million cubic meters of pressurized volume, including all of the air ducts and the air scrubbing plant. The M-Class has a crew of seven: Ship's Master, First Officer, Executive Officer, Navigation Officer, Science Officer, Chief Engineer, and Engineer's Mate. There are seven hypersleep capsules that have been installed for any long-duration flight. The polarized gravity generators provide the internal gravity and the inertial dampening. Beneath the hull is an external docking bay for a shuttlecraft. The shuttlecraft is capable of use as a lifeboat in case ship's evacuation is necessary.
- The Nostromo's name was taken from the eponymous hero of the 1904 novel by Joseph Conrad.
- The original name for the spaceship was the Snark. This was later changed to the Leviathan before the crew finally settled for Nostromo.
- Some of the computer displays from the Nostromo were reused in Ridley Scott's later film Blade Runner.
- Many moviegoers often mistake the refinery for the Nostromo itself, and have confused the Nostromo when it detached itself from the refinery as the shuttle Narcissus.
- Originally, there was supposed to be an eighth member of the crew, a security officer called Fazio. He was scripted to be killed by the fully grown Alien not long after Kane's death while searching through the ship. However, the character was cut from the movie early in production.