We like to think that we aren’t alone in saying a spaceship was the one and only thing we truly yearned for as children; after all, we spent years and years locked in front of a television, captivated by awesome space battles, galaxies far, far away, aliens, black holes, Saturn’s rings and the like. We’ve seen things you couldn’t believe, man! All of it possible thanks to the amazing technology located in whichever spaceship was carrying our fragile heroes on their quest to better the galaxy, or the universe, or even lonely little planet Earth. Whatever the mission, we trusted the spaceship to get our heroes where they needed to be, and fast! That’s why we here at Goliath have put together a list of the 10 coolest spaceships in science fiction history, so as to share our childhood fantasies of soaring through the stars with our readers.
10. Eagle 5 (Spaceballs)
It’s important to remember that while spaceships are really, really cool, they can also be funny as well, which is why we’ve chosen to kick off this list with the Eagle 5, the chosen craft of the heroes Lone Starr and Barf in Spaceballs, the Mel Brooks-directed spoof of Star Wars that was released in 1987 and stars Bill Pullman, John Candy and Rick Moranis. A 1986 Winnebago Chieftan 33 that’s been modified for space travel (by attaching jet engines and wings to the rickety carriage), the Eagle 5 is the trusty vehicle from which Lone Starr (Pullman) and Barf (Candy) must rescue Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), and thwart the plans of the evil Lord Dark Helmet (Moranis). Featuring a periscope (old school), hyper jets and a swanky rear projection TV in the cockpit, the Eagle 5 is the spaceship we never really wanted, but would take if it was passed down to us by an underwhelming uncle.
9. Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)
Alright, so technically the Nebuchadnezzar is a hovercraft and not a spaceship, but given its status as a science fiction icon and its resemblance to the crafts of space that we’ve chosen for this list, we’re going to go ahead and give ourselves a pass on this one. This craft, captained by the legendary freedom fighter Morpheus, is first introduced as it picks up the protagonist Neo after his long sleep in The Matrix; from that point on, the Nebuchadnezzar acts as the main method of transportation through the post-apocalyptic machine world in which the film takes place. The Nebuchadnezzar, which is outfitted with a transceiver that allows an Operator to jack into the titular Matrix (the virtual world in which much of humanity is kept prisoner), uses proprietary technology to “hover” and fly above the ground, and is also outfitted with an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) device which can be used to deactivate all the machines in a nearby radius. Fully equipped with turrets and cannons for defense, the Nebuchadnezzar is a formidable machine suitable for all sorts of expeditions.
8.The Heart of Gold (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
We’re veering briefly back into the comedic realm of space faring for a moment, if only because it would’ve been impossible to create a list like this without including the bizarre and absurd, but also insanely cool Heart of Gold, the Improbability-ridden vessel from the 2005 adaptation of Douglas Adam’s beloved science fiction novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, the Heart of Gold is a ship which can, according to the titular Hitchhiker’s Guide, “pass through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe almost simultaneously,” a fact which results in alarming speed but some very prominent side-effects (you could be turned into a ball of yarn, for example, on the way) that dissipate shortly after the drive has been turned off. While the 2005 adaptation of Adam’s novel was not universally acclaimed, its depiction of the Heart of Gold and its Improbability Drive was spot on.
7. X-Wing Fighter (Star Wars)
Ahhhh, finally. We’ve reached the Star Wars point on our list, in what is the first (but not the last) appearance by a space craft from the acclaimed space opera that debuted in 1977. The X-Wing Fighter, instantly recognizable due to its signature X-Foils (wings), which can move based on a need for either speed or maneuverability, is the primary dogfighter of the Rebel Alliance and the craft piloted by Luke Skywalker throughout the course of the original trilogy of films. An iconic spaceship design which exists in stark contrast to the TIE Fighter used by the Galactic Empire (a ship that almost made it on this list in its own right), the X-Wing fighter is equipped with four laser cannons and a photon torpedo chamber; moreover, it contains a space for an astromech droid (the R2-D2 type) to assist in navigation and combat. Fast, deadly and damn cool, there were few spaceships we wanted more as children.
6. Discovery 1 (2001: A Space Odyssey)
We wanted to make sure we branched out from your standard science fiction fare when choosing crafts for this list, and we chose the Discover 1 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, as the ship to do just that. A slow-moving interplanetary ship powered by nuclear fission and operated in part by the HAL-9000 artificial intelligence system, the Discovery 1 is a pretty harsh juxtaposition from the fast-moving combat-oriented ships that make up the majority of this list. However, that doesn’t mean the Discovery 1 isn’t cool; rather, if you removed one slightly murderous artificial intelligence system from power, it’d probably be a really swell place to spend a journey to Jupiter, what with its spacious cabin, stylish minimalist design and suspended animation chambers (so as to speed up the trip).
5. Nostromo (Alien)
While most of the ships on this list represent some semblance of hope, adventure and opportunity, this one’s a bit more dour; in many ways, the Nostromo, as depicted in 1979’s Alien, acts as a prison, a horrific sort of enclosure that represents an impossible escape from the titular aliens (Xenomorphs, as they’re called) of the film’s mythology. The Nostromo, which succeeds in creating an atmosphere of terror with its dark colours, sweating pipes and labyrinth of hallways, is an iconic design that resembles a city far more than a spaceship; however, its cultural legacy is cemented by its status as the setting of one of science fiction’s truly terrifying films.
4. Battlestar Galactica (Battlestar Galactica)
In many ways, Battlestar Galactica carries an unfair stigma with it due to its classification as a science fiction television series. Sure, it takes place on a spaceship (and a very cool one, at that), but it’s more a character drama than anything else, at least until its strange and oddly spiritual last season. That said, the ship itself (the aptly named Galactica, a battlestar class space craft designed for heavy warfare) is infinitely cool, and its retro design and utilitarian facets only add to the legend of a ship meant to be portrayed as both outdated and formidable. Measuring over 4,700 feet in length and possessing a wide variety of arms, including nuclear ship-to-ship missiles, battery turrets, a staffed legion of smaller fighters to be released for attack and defense, and faster-than-light engines, the Galactica is capable of both taking and dishing beatings of an extraordinary variety.
3. Serenity (Firefly)
Described by creator Joss Whedon as “the tenth character” of his short-lived but much-loved science fiction series Firefly, the Serenity is a firefly class freighter (which renders it small in comparison to most ships in its universe) that is captained by Malcolm Reynolds (as played by Nathan Fillion) as he and his crew attempt to earn a meager living through means both legal and illegal. The Serenity, which is named after a lost battle in the Serenity Valley, features no external armaments, but is both fast and extremely stealthy, two factors which come in handy when considering the fact that smuggling is the primary course of action for this ragtag group of adventurers. Equipped with rotating engines that allow vertical takeoffs and landings, the Serenity is a loveable little vessel that represents the best of what a spaceship can offer: hope.
2. U.S.S Enterprise (Star Trek)
Even as we type this, we can hear Jean-Luc Picard (as played by Patrick Stewart) uttering the words “Starship Enterprise,” which means we’re going to spend the rest of the day glued to the couch watching old Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes and wishing we, too, could bravely go where no man has gone before. The Enterprise, which has served as the trusted vessel for several generations of crew members in the Star Trek universe, is a miraculous vessel designed for deep space reconnaissance and peacekeeping missions, but it still packs plenty of punch with phasers and photon torpedoes available in spades. Along with its trademarked warp speed, its teleportation technology and particle replicator devices, the Enterprise is where we’d like to spend the rest of our space faring days.
1. Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)
The spaceship that has captivated the hearts and minds of young rebels and would-be smugglers since its iconic reveal in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, the Millennium Falcon is piloted by the always rugged Han Solo and his Wookie compatriot, Chewbaccca. A reformatted YT-1300 light freighter that’s been modified extensively for use as a smuggling vessel, the Millennium Falcon is often cited by Solo as the fastest ship in the galaxy, one capable of doing the famed Kessel Run in “less than twelve parsecs.” Won by Han Solo in a card game from Lando Calrissian, the Millennium Falcon is quite possibly the most famous spaceship in science fiction history, and with good reason; its instantly recognizable shape, its famed reputation and its roguish captain all guarantee it a legacy as one of the finest interstellar crafts the genre has ever seen, a fact unlikely to change anytime in the near future.