A dastardly villain, a thumping theme-tune, and explanations for complicated time-travel paradoxes delivered in barely comprehensible jargon at speeds so quick viewers are forced to simply shrug and smile along – these are all key pillars of good Sci-Fi. Yet nothing is more critical to its success than an iconic spaceship.
Not simply a mode of transport, but a home, weapon, and sense of identity, the spaceship can make or break a movie and the characters within it. The Doctor’s T.A.R.D.I.S, a humble Police Phone Box with a surprisingly spacious interior, is arguably more famous than the man (alright, alien…) himself, and has become a complex character in its own right, often coming to the rescue of the titular hero.
Take the Death Star from Darth Vader and he is just a masked man with severe anger issues, but give him his steel stallion – stylistically little more than a giant chipped golf ball but 140km in diameter and valued by researchers at the Earthbound Lehigh University at $8.1 Quadrillion – and he instantly rockets to the top of Galaxy Magazine’s Most Powerful list. Biggest is usually best.
Looking forward, there are a number of contenders to the Death Star’s crown. The Guardians of the Galaxy arrives this summer, and while Star-Lord’s Milano Spaceship will have to go some way to match the titans of the field, early images look promising however, and we can be hopeful that it will provide the perfect vessel for their madcap antics.
Meanwhile, Poland’s state of the art Alvernia Studios – futuristic movie studio and a strong contender for the world’s coolest office – wowed producers of the forthcoming TV drama Space Age (pictured above) to such an extent, that it was given the role of the show’s spaceship.
Simon Callow and Richard Wilson will walk its Alien-inspired metallic corridors and bold domes, as a pair of aging astronauts to the stratosphere to prepare new planets for human settlement.
We’ve scoured the Solar System and beyond for Sci-Fi’s Best Spaceships. See our Top 10 below… And with the decision-makers of today’s NASA being of the generation that grew up on Luke Skywalker and company’s intergalactic adventures, maybe we might someday see these taking off from planet Earth…
Making wide-eyed assistants exclaim ‘It’s larger on the inside’ for over fifty years now, the Doctor’s constant companion, defender, and one-time love interest, is a British television institution.
The iconic blue box might lack the wow-factor of some of the others on this list, but the advantages of time travel make it a worthy addition to the list.
Notable for being the only one of these Spaceships currently found on planet Earth, the Polish film studio’s iconic futuristic domes and corridors take on the role of the vessel that transports a pair of veteran and world-weary astronauts to an alien land in the forthcoming Space Age.
All those childhood wannabe X-Wing pilots might consider doing the next best thing and applying for a job at the Studio.
Undeniably the best of the Thunderbirds. Thunderbird 2, piloted by Virgil Tracey (surely to the envy of his brothers), was a big green machine capable of extraordinary feats of International Rescue.
Hitting speeds of 5000mph and powered by Atomic Fusion Reactor, the ship appeared in all but one episode of the cult show. Truly F.A.B.
Such is Star War’s dominance of the genre, it would have been easy to write a list entirely made up of ships from the show. But with due respect to Boba Fett’s Slave 1, the X Wing, and TIE Fighters; it’s the Millenium Falcon that really captured the imagination of a generation.
Han Solo’s pride and joy spirited our intergalactic heroes away from trouble countless times, and played a key role in the downfall of Darth.
Lonestar and Barf’s quest through the stars to rescue a princess might seem a pretty standard recreation of Sci-Fi lore, but the Spaceball’s duo’s choice of ship stands out.
The fearless pair travelled in a 1986 Winnebago Chieftain 33, not unlike Breaking Bad’s Walt and Jesse, handily accessorized with wings and space engine.
The primary vessel of The Borg – frequent Star Trek adversaries and alien collective – The Borg Cube that appeared in Star Trek: First Contact, blew Sci-Fi minds in an instant.
With each side measuring 3 kilometres and possessing the strength to wipe out an entire planet at will, they pack some serious firepower, and delivered Starfleet more than a few spots of bother. Worryingly, there are probably thousands more out there in Delta Quadrant…
The ship of Captains Kirk, Picard, and many others, The U.S.S Enterprise is one of the most notorious of on-screen Sci-Fi inventions, having appeared across a number of Star Trek timelines.
The ship has boldly gone where no man has gone before, and achieved such cultural renown that NASA actually named a test shuttle after it following a heardfought campaign by Trekies. A classic.
The Weyland-Yutami Corporation’s mining vessel of choice, the Nostromo is the setting of cinema’s most terrifying extra-terrestrial encounter. Alien’s spaceship was notable for its gritty realism, and its corridors provided the perfect location for a life of death game of hide and seek.
Despite Ripley’s best efforts, the ship fell victim to its in-built self-destruct system.
Heart of Gold
The first ship to make use of the Infinite Improbability Drive – meaning that it essentially could do or appear as anything. Illegally commandeered by President Zaphod Beeblebrox at its own launching ceremony, the ship chooses to pick up the floating Arthur Dent, and kick start his great adventure into a madcap universe.
The ship comes equipped with friendly doors, and a paranoid android named Marvin.
Named after Captain Scott’s Antarctic-bothering boat, the spaceship seen in classic 2001: A Space Odyssey is not only one of the most beautiful on this list, but one of the more realistic too.
It was designed based on conceivable science, and so could perhaps one day been seen in the sky over the Heathrow flight path – though hopefully without the murderous HAL 9000 onboard.