"I say that we abandon this ship! We take the shuttle and just get the hell out of here!"
Lambert, to Ripley and Parker (from Alien)

The Narcissus,[2] registration number 1809-E1, was a modified Lockmart Starcub light (LSL) intrasystem shuttlecraft[2][3] that served as one of two lifeboats[4] aboard the Weyland-Yutani Corporation commercial hauler USCSS Nostromo. Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley used the Narcissus to escape the destruction of its parent vessel in 2122, along with the ship's cat Jones.


Measuring in at 21.3 meters long, 16.2 meters wide, and 7 meters high, the 48 ton shuttle Narcissus was constructed of conventional composite construction, with a ceramic and composite outer skin.[2] The single internal cabin offered 108 cubic meters of space, including numerous lockers and storage space for supplies and equipment. The shuttle was also equipped with a folding tricycle undercarriage, allowing it to set down on planetary bodies if required.[2]

As was standard, the Narcissus was designed to carry a crew of three, including a pilot, co-pilot and science officer, although the interior could be easily modified to seat more crew members if necessary. For long duration travel, the shuttle contained two stasis capsules, although long-range interstellar transit was not the vessel's primary purpose.[2] When not in use, the Narcissus was stored in a docking module on the underside of the USCSS Nostromo adjacent to the ship's port engine nacelle while her sister shuttle, Salmacis, was stored in the same position on the starboard side.[4]

Energy and propulsion[]

The Narcissus was powered by a 9gW microfusion reactor that drove two Newington A-24 rocket motors. These engines employed water as the reaction mass. Engine thrust could be variably vectored through two forward or four rearward thrust tunnels,[2] allowing the shuttle to move with equal speed in either direction; indeed, the Narcissus was designed to evacuate Nostromo in reverse when used as an emergency escape vehicle.[5]

For interstellar travel, a Romberg 100C tachyon shunt could propel the Narcissus at low faster-than-light speeds. Fully fueled, the vessel had a range of 13 parsecs.[2]


Emergency escape[]

"Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew - Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash, and Captain Dallas - are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."
Ripley (from Alien)

When Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley detonated the Nostromo's engines to destroy the ship and the Xenomorph on board, she used the Narcissus to escape the blast zone. However, unknown to her, the Xenomorph had stowed away on board the shuttle as well, and she was confronted by the creature as she prepared to enter stasis. Ripley ultimately killed the creature when she opened the airlock, almost sucking it out into space, before shooting it with a harpoon gun (which ended up jammed in the ship's airlock door) and incinerating it in the shuttle's main rear engine outlets. With the Xenomorph destroyed, Ripley and the former ship's cat, Jones, set a course for the frontier and went into stasis.

Drifting in space[]

"I think he kept me floating around out there. Waiting for another sign of these aliens."
Ripley referring to Ash (from Alien: Out of the Shadows (audio drama))

Unknown to Ripley, Ash, Nostromo's synthetic science officer, had surreptitiously uploaded his AI consciousness to the Narcissus' mainframe following the destruction of his physical body aboard the Nostromo, and had been in control of the shuttle ever since.[6] After drifting for thirty-seven years, Ash detected a distress call sent by the DMSO Marion and rerouted the Narcissus to intercept it, hoping to fulfill his mission to recover a Xenomorph specimen for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Ash's plan ultimately failed and his consciousness was finally wiped from the shuttle's memory banks, after which Ripley was set adrift aboard the Narcissus once again.


"That's the thing. You were out there for fifty-seven years. What happened was, you had drifted right through the core systems, and it's really just blind luck that a deep salvage team found you when they did. It's one in a thousand, really. I think you're damn lucky to be alive, kiddo. You could be floating out there forever."
Burke, to Ripley (from Aliens)

The Narcissus would remain undetected for a further twenty years (fifty seven years total) before a salvage vessel and its crew discovered it through sheer luck. Jones and Ripley were sent to Gateway Station to recover from their excessively long period in stasis, while the Narcissus was studied extensively in the hope that it may shed some light on Nostromo's disappearance. Evidence from this search was later used against Ripley during the tribunal into the destruction of the Nostromo.

Behind the scenes[]


Like its parent vessel, the Nostromo, the Narcissus is named after an element featured in the works of Joseph Conrad — in this case, the titular vessel from his 1897 novella The N*gger of the 'Narcissus': A Tale of the Forecastle (retitled The Children of the Sea in some American editions).

For the filming of the scene where the Alien is finally incinerated in the shuttle's engines, a full-scale replica of the rear hull of the shuttle was suspended vertically from the studio ceiling, while stunt man Eddie Powell (in full Alien costume) was suspended and maneuvered beneath on wires.[7] The effect of the engines firing was created with bright lights, while high pressure hoses were used to create a mist of water that billowed from the engine outlets, serving both to increase the intensity of the lights on film and give the impression of particles or vapor being expelled from the exhaust.[7] The camera was then placed on the ground, directly beneath the replica shuttle, to capture the shots seen in the film.


Following filming on Alien, the Narcissus model was actually lost. Thus, when the shuttle was due to return at the start of Aliens, the effects team had to construct a new model.[8] With precious little photographic evidence to work from, Robert and Dennis Skotak had to painstakingly recreate the shuttle from a handful of detailed still images from Robert Skotak's personal collection and some frame clips from the original film.[8]



A sign in Alien: Isolation.

  • In Alien: Isolation, signs can be found with a picture of a Starcub Light Intrasystem Shuttle, the same type of ship as the Narcissus.
  • The Narcissus' manufacturer is named Lockmart; this may be a subtle homage to the real life aerospace company Lockheed Martin.



Concept art[]


See Also[]

  • Salmacis — The other lifeboat aboard the USCSS Nostromo.