"This is commercial towing vehicle Nostromo out of the Solomons, registration number one-eight-oh-niner-two-four-six-oh-niner."
Ellen Ripley (from Alien)

The USCSS Nostromo, registration number 1809246(09),[3] was a modified Lockmart CM-88B Bison M-Class star freighter owned by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and commanded by Captain Arthur Dallas, registered out of Panama.[2] 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 Ellen Ripley in an attempt to kill the lone Xenomorph that was loose aboard the vessel. The ship and its refinery cargo were completely destroyed in the resulting explosion.


Nostromo cryo chambers

The Nostromo's hypersleep chambers.

The USCSS Nostromo was constructed in 2101 as an interstellar cruiser, but was refitted in 2116 as a commercial towing vehicle.[3] The Nostromo was subsequently operated as a commercial hauler, transporting automated ore and oil refineries between the outer colonies and Earth.[2] 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 engines 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.[5] Seven hypersleep chambers that would accommodate the crew during long-duration flight were also installed at this time. Many of the ship's background systems, including its autopilot feature, were controlled by MU/TH/UR 6000, an artificial intelligence computer mainframe.

Final voyage[]

The Nostromo departed from Earth in 2120 and made a one month trip to Neptune, where it connected with a cargo hauler. From there, Nostromo ultimately departed on its scheduled eight-month interstellar journey to Thedus, where it spent eight weeks while the hauler was loaded before its extended trip back to the Sol System, due to added weight.[6] During its stay on Thedus, one of the ship's two light shuttles, Salmacis, was damaged in a loading accident and was not aboard when the Nostromo departed.

During the tug's return trip, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation detected and partially decoded an unidentified warning signal emanating from Acheron (LV-426).[7] Unbeknownst to its crew, the Nostromo was selected to investigate the signal and possibly recover a potential Xenomorph specimen from a derelict ship on LV-426, placing the crew ten months away from Earth. 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 by any means necessary, even at the expense of the rest of the crew. Upon leaving Thedus, Captain Arthur Dallas transmitted the ship's report packet back to Earth, relaying it through Sevastopol Station.[8]

Nostromo above LV-426

The Nostromo above LV-426.

The Nostromo landed on LV-426 on June 3, 2122.[2] 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.[9] When Executive Officer Thomas Kane was later brought back to the ship with a Facehugger attached to him, Ash broke quarantine procedure by allowing Dallas and Navigation Officer Joan Lambert to carry him aboard. Dallas elected to take off from LV-426, despite the fact several non-critical systems had yet to be repaired.

Nostromo explosion

The Nostromo exploding.

Once underway, 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.[4] Eventually, the few survivors decided to set the Nostromo to self-destruct in an attempt to kill the Alien while they themselves escaped in the ship's remaining light shuttle, the Narcissus. Only Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley survived to make the escape, along with the ship's cat Jones, while the Nostromo and its cargo were completely destroyed by the ship's emergency destruction system.


"I remember reading about your ship, actually, when I was a kid. It's gone down in the 'lost without trace' files."
Hoop to Ripley, regarding the Nostromo (from Alien: Out of the Shadows)

The apparent disappearance of the Nostromo was subject to large amounts of news coverage, with speculation as to the cause of its destruction ranging from stray debris to an "uncatalogued asteroid".[10] However, the truth of the incident was briskly covered up by Weyland-Yutani. Company 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 warning signal being transmitted from LV-426.[11] The signal itself was later deactivated by the crew of the USCSS Anesidora.[12] Weyland-Yutani lost a substantial amount of money as a result of the loss of the Nostromo, a fact that no doubt helped facilitate the coverup — the incident became a black mark in the company's records, and consequently it was something of a taboo subject amongst employees.[13] Nostromo was relegated to the pages of history, where it went down as being lost without a trace.[14] The ship's fate was finally revealed 57 years later in 2179, when Ripley was rescued.



The crew of the Nostromo.

Behind the Scenes[]

The ship's name was taken from the eponymous hero of the 1904 novel Nostromo by Joseph Conrad. It was originally called the Snark, after the Lewis Carroll poem The Hunting of the Snark,[16] then later the Leviathan,[17] before Ridley Scott chose Nostromo due to his love of Conrad's works.[18] 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).

Scale models[]

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.[19] 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,[19] while the refinery's underside incorporated panels from Darth Vader's TIE fighter.[20]

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).[19] 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.[19] For the scene in which theNostromo 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.[19] 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 the 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.[19] 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.[21] Some sections of wall could be removed to assist with filming/lighting,[22] but even so the set remained a difficult, cramped environment in which to work.

The look of the Nostromo's corridors was designed to evoke the feeling of a World War II submarine.[20] 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;[19] for example, the crew chairs on the bridge were taken from fighter aircraft, with at least some of them being ejector seats.[23] Much of the set dressing in the medbay was genuine medical equipment.[24]

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.[23] 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.[25] However, cost concerns meant this ambitious set was scrapped in favor 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 bridge set contained some 40 video monitors,[22] all of which were fully functional — any footage seen on the various screens in the movie was played for real during filming.[24] 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.[23]


  • The Nostromo's early names, Snark and Leviathan, are referenced in the names of the USCSS Snark and the UAS Leviathan, two vessels Dallas served on prior to becoming captain of the Nostromo.
  • 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. Fazio's fate was adopted by Brett, who was searching for Jones before dying.
  • 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.



Behind the scenes[]

External Links[]


  1. Graham J. Langridge. Alien: The Blueprints, p. 17 (2019), Titan Books.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 135 (2012), Titan Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 66 (2014), Insight Editions.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers), Ridley Scott (director). Alien (1979), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  5. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 136 (2012), Titan Books.
  6. Keith R. A. DeCandido. Alien: Isolation, p. 64 (2019), Titan Books.
  7. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 261 (2014), Titan Books.
  8. Alien: Isolation - Nostromo Log 010 - Nostromo Report Packet
  9. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 45 (2014), Titan Books.
  10. Alien: Isolation - The Digital Series, episode 2
  11. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 143 (2012), Titan Books.
  12. Alien: Isolation, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One version, Creative Assembly, 2014.
  13. Alien: Isolation - Archive Log 002 - Re: Nostromo Incident
  14. Tim Lebbon. Alien: Out of the Shadows, p. 55 (2014), Titan Books.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 Ian Nathan. Alien Vault: USCSS Nostromo schematic insert (2011), Aurum Press.
  16. Ian Nathan. Alien Vault, p. 20 (2011), Aurum Press.
  17. Ian Nathan. Alien Vault, p. 25 (2011), Aurum Press.
  18. Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 50 (1979), Warren Publishing.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, David Giler, Veronica Cartwright, Ivor PowellThe Beast Within: Making Alien (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  20. 20.0 20.1 John Hurt, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, David Giler, Sigourney WeaverThe Alien Saga (2002), Prometheus Entertainment [DVD].
  21. Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 52 (1979), Warren Publishing.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 16 (1979), Warren Publishing.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, H. R. Giger, Ivor PowellThe Alien Legacy (1999), Sharpline Arts [DVD].
  24. 24.0 24.1 Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 37 (1979), Warren Publishing.
  25. Paul Scanlon, Michael Gross. The Book of Alien, p. 44 (1979), Heavy Metal Communications.
  26. http://www.propstore.com/cms/nostromo-a-legend-born-and-born-again/