Spaceships in Movies
Spaceships in Movies
Spaceships in the movies have a long and varied history. Beginning with the Buck Rogers serials of the 1950s, cinematic spaceships have taken us to the planets, on star treks to distance worlds, and to a galaxy far, far away.
The Pan Am Space Clipper in "2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of the most iconic spaceships in movies. There is a spectacular sequence in which the streamlined shuttle from Earth rendezvous with a slowly spinning space station as "Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss plays in the background.
The Pan Am Space Clipper was so popular that the airline started taking reservations for trips to the Moon like the one that Heywood Floyd took in the film. More than 93,000 people signed up before Pan Am went out of business in December 1991.
The other iconic spaceship in the movie is Discovery One, a nuclear-powered craft that took five astronauts and a homicidal computer named HAL to Jupiter. Discovery was 460 feet (140 m) long and powered by gaseous core nuclear reactor engines. It featured a rotating hub that provided artificial gravity for its human occupants.
In 1977, "Star Wars" took us to a galaxy far, far away with some of the best spaceships in movies ever. The opening scene set the tone for this epic battle between good and evil: Princess Leia's tiny diplomatic ship is chased and overtaken by an enormous Imperial Star Destroyer that was a mile (.6 km) long.
The film also introduced audiences to three other iconic movie spaceships: the Millennium Falcon flown by smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca; the X-wing fighter used by Luke Skywalker to destroy the Death Star; and the TIE fighters used by Imperial forces.
That same year, Steven Spielberg released "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." The movie tells the story of an electrical lineman named Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) whose life changes after he encounters a UFO. At the end of the movie, Neary and others are drawn to Devil's Tower in Wyoming, where a giant alien ship descends to make a close encounter with humanity.
In 1979, the Starship Enterprise made its first appearance on the big screen in the appropriately titled "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." It was the first of 11 movies to feature versions of the U.S.S. Enterprise captained by either James T. Kirk or Jean Luc Picard.
That same year, the Nostromo made its appearance in the terrifying film, "Alien." The modified Lockmart CM-88B Bison Transport was a commercial towing vessel whose crew settles down on a desolate planet to investigate a strange alien signal. Three sequels would follow.
In 1996, the world found itself under attack by giant alien spaceships in "Independence Day." On July 2, an alien mothership enters Earth's orbit and deploys 36 saucer-shaped ships 15 miles wide to hover over the world's major cities. Within hours, the aliens begin destroying every major city on the planet. The humans fight back and win the day by infecting the aliens' ships with a computer virus.