Alien? Just space truckers get eaten? (spacecraft design)

Few films are as well-known in the science fiction genre as Ridley Scott’s Alien. In addition to introducing the horrifying xenomorph to the world, the film also took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The design of the vessel Nostromo, where the majority of the plot takes place, is frequently disregarded, despite the film’s spectacular use of miniatures and horrifying alien effects being well recognised.

It was difficult to come up with the design for the Nostromo. Ridley Scott, the director of the film, wanted the spaceship to have a realistic and artistic appearance. Finding the ideal design, meanwhile, would be challenging because no one had ever made a film like Alien before.

Scott enlisted the aid of two concept artists, Ron Cobb and Chris Foss, as well as a few more personalities who may surprise you, to construct the Nostromo’s exterior. The group put forth a lot of effort to come up with a design that would not only complement the aesthetic of the film but also be workable and plausible.

Cobb, who had previously worked on Star Wars, brought to the table his expertise in developing useful spacecraft. In contrast, Foss was renowned for his incredibly stylized spaceship designs. They collaborated on dozens of Nostromo concepts in an effort to strike the ideal mix between reality and elegance.

It was not a simple task to develop. Scott was not scared to express his opinions because he had clear ideas about how he wanted the Nostromo to look. Cobb said that Scott was quite hard on everyone, including himself, in a Los Angeles Times interview. With a utilitarian style that mirrored the harsh reality of space flight, Scott intended the spaceship to appear as though it has been used and abused.

Creating a design that audiences would find credible was one of the team’s toughest challenges. Cobb noted that every component of the Nostromo’s appearance has to have a distinct purpose. He explained that if we installed a vent there, there had to be a good justification for it.

The crew employed a number of tactics, including creating scale models of the spaceship, to make the Nostromo appear genuine. Motion control cameras were then used to film the models in order to simulate a full-sized spaceship.

The group ultimately decided on a design that was both useful and fashionable. The exterior of the Nostromo was composed of a number of connected modules, with the landing gear and engines placed at the back of the ship. The Apollo programme of NASA served as a major source of inspiration for the design, which was largely influenced by actual spacecraft.

Designing the Nostromo was a feat of practical effects and design, and it has since evolved into one of the most recognisable spacecraft in film history. Several sci-fi films and TV shows that came after it bear the mark of its impact.

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