The USCSS Nostromo, registration number 1809246(09), was a modified Lockmart CM-88B Bison M-Class starfreighter captained by Arthur Dallas, registered to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation out of Panama. The Nostromo operated as a tug, connecting to and pulling loads like a tractor truck rather than carrying those loads on board like a traditional freighter.
The ship was destroyed in 2122 when its reactor was set to self destruct by Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley in an attempt to kill the lone Xenomorph that was loose aboard the vessel. The ship and its cargo were completely destroyed in the resulting explosion.
The Nostromo was constructed in 2101 as an interstellar cruiser, but was refitted in 2116 as a commercial towing vehicle. The ship was subsequently operated as a commercial hauler, transporting automated ore and oil refineries between outer colonies and Earth. As part of this retrofit, the ship's original Saturn J-3000 engines were removed and replaced with the two immensely powerful Rolls-Royce N66 Cyclone thrust engines, with bipolar vectoring for midline lift function. Each of these N66 cyclone powerplants developed 65,830 metric tons of thrust, using water for reaction mass. When running at full power, the engines produced a high impulse thrust total of 131,660 kN. The seven hypersleep chambers that would accommodate the crew during long-duration flight were also installed at this time. Many of the ships background systems, including it's auto-pilot feature, were controlled by MU/TH/UR 6000, the ship's artificial intelligence computer mainframe.
When Weyland-Yutani detected and partially decoded an unidentified warning signal emanating from LV-426, the Nostromo was selected (unbeknownst to its crew) to investigate and hopefully recover a potential Xenomorph specimen from the moon. To help ensure the recovery of the creature, the Nostromo's science officer was replaced two days before the ship left Thedus with Ash, a Synthetic sleeper agent who, under Special Order 937, was to assist in the recovery of a Xenomorph through any means necessary, even at the expense of the rest of the crew. Upon leaving Thedus, Captain Dallas transmitted the ship's report packet back to Sol, relaying it through Sevastopol Station.
The Nostromo set down on LV-426 on June 3, 2122. The ship was damaged during landing when dust entered one of the engine intakes, causing it to overheat and eventually triggering an electrical fire in the engineering section. When Executive Officer Kane was later brought back aboard the ship with a Facehugger attached to him, Dallas elected to take off, despite the fact several non-critical systems had yet to be repaired.
Once under way, the Alien that birthed from Kane began stalking and slaughtering the crew, whose efforts at fighting the creature were hampered both by Ash and, more generally, by the fact it remained on the lower engineering decks, where the security camera systems were still inoperable following the electrical damage caused on LV-426. Eventually the few survivors decided to set the ship for self destruct in an attempt to kill the Alien while they themselves escaped in the ship's light shuttle, Narcissus. Only Ellen Ripley survived to make the escape, along with the ship's cat Jones, while the ship and cargo were completely destroyed by the detonation of the Nostromo's reactor.
Following its destruction, the Nostromo incident was subject to a cover up. The Weyland-Yutani personnel who had given the ship its secret mission to LV-426 destroyed all records of ever having done so, along with any information regarding the emergency beacon being transmitted by the derelict ship on LV-426. The beacon itself was later deactivated by the crew of the Anesidora. Weyland-Yutani lost a substantial amount of money as a result of the Nostromo's disappearance, a fact that no doubt helped facilitate the cover up — the incident became a black mark in the company's records, and consequently it was something of a taboo subject amongst employees. The loss of the Nostromo was relegated to the pages of history where it went down as lost without a trace.
- Arthur Dallas — Captain/Ship's Master
- Gilbert Kane — Executive Officer
- Ellen Ripley — Warrant Officer
- Ash — Science Officer
- Joan Lambert — Navigation Officer
- Dennis Parker — Chief Engineer
- Samuel Brett — Engineers Mate/Engineering Technician
- Jones — Ship's cat
Behind the Scenes
The Nostromo's name was taken from the eponymous hero of the 1904 novel Nostromo by Joseph Conrad. The ship was originally called the Snark, then later the Leviathan, before Ridley Scott chose the name Nostromo due to his love of Conrad's works. People and places from Conrad's works would go on to feature repeatedly as the names of space-going vessels in the Alien franchise, inspiring the names of the Narcissus (also from Alien), the USS Sulaco (from Aliens), the USCSS Patna (from Alien3), the USS Verloc (from Aliens versus Predator 2), the USS Marlow (from Aliens vs. Predator) and the USS Sephora (from Aliens: Colonial Marines).
Three scale models of the Nostromo were made for filming: a 12-inch (30 cm) version for medium and long shots, a 4-foot (1.2 m) version for rear shots and a 12-foot (3.7 m), 7-short-ton (6.4 t) rig for the undocking and planetoid surface sequences. The latter of these was so large it could only be moved using a forklift truck, which would plug into two slots on the back of the model. The basic outlines of the smaller models were made of wood and plastic, while the larger had a welded metal frame. Most of the fine surface details were added from model kits of battleships, tanks and World War II bombers, while the miniature of the attached refinery contained parts from several Star Wars model kits in its construction — the release mechanism that secures the Nostromo to the refinery featured the legs of R2-D2 as decorations on its upper surface, while the refinery's underside incorporated panels from Darth Vader's TIE fighter.
Filming of the miniatures took place at Bray Studios near Maidenhead, Berkshire. The Nostromo models were originally painted yellow. However, after the model unit had spent several weeks filming the model, Scott decided to repaint the ship grey and reshoot all of the model work himself. At one point, the refinery being towed by the Nostromo featured towering spires considerably higher than those that appear in the final film, but just before filming Ridley Scott personally removed the upper sections (allegedly with a hammer and chisel). A separate model, approximately 40 feet (12 m) long, was created for the Nostromo's underside, from which the Narcissus would detach and along which Kane's body was launched during the funeral scene. For the scene in which the Nostromo detaches from the refinery, a 30-foot (9.1 m) docking arm miniature was created to the same scale as the largest Nostromo model. To film the sequence, the Nostromo was pushed away from the refinery by the forklift — which was concealed under black velvet — causing the arm to extend out from the refinery, creating the illusion that the arm was pushing the ship forward. Shots from outside the Nostromo in which the characters are seen moving around inside through windows were filmed using larger model sections that contained projection screens showing pre-recorded footage.
The interior of the Nostromo was designed by conceptual artist Ron Cobb. The set constructed for filming was all interconnected and largely sealed, meaning cast and crew had to walk through the various corridors and chambers to reach other areas of the ship. Several crew members commented that the confines of intricate set meant filming was more akin to shooting on location than in a studio, and that the interior's enclosed nature helped to create a feeling of claustrophobia appropriate to the film. In such a confined set, lighting was a constant issue. To compensate, some of the roof sections were constructed of clear plastic that allowed natural light from the studio outside to filter through, but even so sometimes actors had to resort to holding the flamethrower they were carrying close to their face so that the pilot flame would illuminate them for the cameras.
The look of the Nostromo's corridors was designed to evoke the feeling of a World War II submarine. Much of the interior was dressed with various aircraft parts, acquired by the production team from RAF stock that was being decommissioned nearby at the time; for example, the crew chairs on the bridge were taken from fighter aircraft, with at least some of them being ejector seats. Much of the set dressing in the medbay was genuine medical equipment.
The Mother interface room was designed to mimic a niche in a cathedral, with the myriad of blinking lights representing candles. Much of the ship's interior was fully functional, in that many of the various buttons actually performed some function when activated. All the on-set video equipment was also real, and any footage seen on the various screens in the movie was played for real during filming. The ship's bridge was originally designed as a large, open space with several "floating" consoles and crew seats that projected into a vast glass window at its front. However, cost concerns meant this ambitious set was scrapped in favour of a cheaper design; elements of the original version were notably recycled for the bridge of the Prometheus in the film of the same name some 33 years later. The Nostromo's bridge was made more claustrophobic still when Ridley Scott had the production crew drop the ceiling of the originally spacious set by some 4 feet just before filming began, creating the far more cramped and enclosed space seen in the film.
- One of the opening scenes of Alien shows the computer waking-up, after which a console reads "CAPACITY. 200 000 000 TONNES". This 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.
- Some of the computer displays from the Nostromo were reused in Ridley Scott's later film Blade Runner.
- Some moviegoers mistake the refinery for the Nostromo, and have confused the Nostromo itself when it detaches from the refinery for the shuttle Narcissus. The refinery is never actually inhabited in the film, as even the Alien remained on the Nostromo itself.
- 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.
- The conceptual warning symbols designed by Ron Cobb for the interior of the Nostromo were later reused for the trophy/achievement icons in the video game Alien: Isolation.
- Alien (1982 video game)
- Alien (1984 video game)
- Aliens/novel (mentioned only)
- Aliens Adventure Game (mentioned only)
- Aliens: The Female War (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (video game) (mentioned and multiplayer only)
- Alien: Out of the Shadows/audio drama (mentioned only)
- Alien: Isolation (mentioned only)
- Alien: River of Pain
- Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
- Deep Black (mentioned only)
Behind the scenes
- Prop Store - Alien - The Nostromo: A Restoration Project
- Prop Store - NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN
- Prop Store - NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 2
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 135 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 66 (2014), Insight Editions.
- ↑ Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 136 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 261 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ Alien: Isolation - Nostromo Log 010 - Nostromo Report Packet
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 45 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers), Ridley Scott (director). Alien (1979), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 143 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
- ↑ Alien: Isolation (2014), Creative Assembly, SEGA [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One].
- ↑ Alien: Isolation - Archive Log 002 - Re: Nostromo Incident
- ↑ Tim Lebbon. Alien: Out of the Shadows, p. 55 (2014), Titan Books.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Ian Nathan. Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film: USCSS Nostromo schematic insert (2011), Voyager Press.
- ↑ Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 50 (1979), Warren Publishing.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Ridley Scott, David Giler, Walter Hill, H. R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett. The Beast Within: Making Alien (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 John Hurt, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, H. R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett. The Alien Saga (2002), Prometheus Entertainment [DVD].
- ↑ Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 52 (1979), Warren Publishing.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, H. R. Giger. The Alien Legacy (1999), Sharpline Arts [DVD].
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 37 (1979), Warren Publishing.
- ↑ Paul Scanlon, Michael Gross. The Book of Alien, p. 44 (1979), Heavy Metal Press.
- ↑ http://www.propstore.com/cms/nostromo-a-legend-born-and-born-again/
- ↑ http://www.thepropgallery.com/nostromo-polaroids