The USCSS Nostromo (reg. 180924609) was a $42 billion (and adjusted) commercial towing vessel owned by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, a Lockmart CM 88B Bison M-Class starfreighter used as a commercial hauler between Thedus and Earth. The Nostromo was 243.8 meters in length, 164.6 meters wide and 72.5 meters in height. It also carried (or rather pulled) a massive refinery behind it for processing ore on the long trip to Earth.
Commercial Towing Vessel Nostromo, an M-Class starfreighter property of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, is a tug, a towing vessel, hauling an enormous (some 1.5 miles in length) ore refinery and 20 million tons of raw ore, weighing many times the mass of the Nostromo. The ship itself is still substantial, over 60,000 metric tons and almost 245 metres (800 feet) long, including three decks, four holds, stores, engines, and lots of pipes and ducts; its escape ship is called the Narcissus. The ship is fitted with a self-destruct system and separates itself from the ore refinery platform via an umibical detachment system.
The ship is equipped with a MU-TH-UR 182 model 2.1 terabyte AI Mainframe (called "Mother" by the crew), which communicated with the crew through the intercom system or a special interface room only accessible to officer at the top of the chain of command. "MOTHER" piloted the ship while the crew were in hypersleep and monitored their activities. The ship had numerous industrial areas, a central eating area, a hypersleep chamber, a kitchen, a cockpit where the crew piloted the ship together, and an infirmary. The ship had a nuclear reactor power source that held at least three reactors, possibly four, due to the large power requirements of the refinery the Nostromo carried. The ship also had a self-destruct system, which involved shutting off the reactor cooling units, ultimately causing the engines to overheat and detonate. The system was engineered so that the engines would detonate precisely 10 minutes after initiation. The explosion could be stopped if the cooling system was turned back on at any point within 5 minutes of initiation, but self-destruct became irreversible after that point. Cancelling the self-destruct sequence required that the complicated initiation procedure be performed again in reverse - a time-consuming exercise. This oversight ultimately led to the ship's destruction, as Ripley was unable to cancel the destruct sequence before the option to override the self-destruct expired.
The crew consists of seven people from various fields. In the order credited, they include Captain Dallas, Warrant Officer Ripley, Navigator Lambert, Engineering Technician Brett, Executive Officer Kane, Science Officer Ash, and Chief Engineer Parker. There is also a ginger tom named Jones (often called "Jonesy" by the crew).
While returning from a job at Thedus, the Nostromo passed through the Zeta II Reticuli system, the Nostromo's onboard computer, MU-TH-UR, intercepted a distress beacon originating from the planetoid LV-426 within close proximity to the ship. The crew members are awakened prematurely from their hypersleep, the crew responded to the beacon and took the Nostromo to the planetoid. Executive Officer Kane was impregnated by a parasitic life form discovered within an ancient derelict space craft found on the planet's surface.
Kane was taken back to the Nostromo for medical treatment, only to die moments later when the creature that was impregnated within him grew and bursts violently out of his chest while being witnessed by the entire crew. The creature eventually matured into an adult and began killing the crewmembers one by one, the situation begins to worsen due to the intervention of Ash who was actually a synthetic assigned by Weyland-Yutani to preserve the creature and bring it back to Earth. With only Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley as the only survivor, she attempted to activate the cooling system to prevent the Nostromo's self-destruct system from activating, but was unsuccessful. With the Nostromo left to explode within 5 minutes, she, along with the crew's pet cat Jonesy, escaped the Nostromo with the use of the shuttlecraft Narcissus just moments before its destruction. However, the creature had already snuck onboard the Narcissus, only for Ripley to finally be able to kill it after blasting it through an airlock and igniting it with the engines.
- Dallas - Captain (ID# 032/V4-07C)
- Kane - Executive Officer (ID# 825/G9-01K)
- Ellen Ripley - Warrant Officer (ID# 759/L2-01N)
- Ash - Science Officer (ID# 111/C2/01X)
- Lambert - Navigator (ID# 971/L6-02P)
- Parker - Chief Engineer (ID# 313/S4-08M)
- Brett - Engineering Technician (ID# 724/R4-06J)
The design of the Nostromo is credited to illustrators Ron Cobb and Chris Foss. Ultimately Chris Foss' highly organic visions of the spacecraft were discarded in favor of Cobb's NASA-like utilitarian renderings. Ridley Scott made his own design contributions as well, adding most of the cathedralesque "refinery" portion, which dominates the craft on screen. Much of the ship's architecture, particularly its interiors and the colossal spires of its refinery structure, are inspired by the cavernous yet simultaneously claustrophobic sensibilities of haunted houses and castles from Gothic Horror films such as Nosferatu.
Cobb's blueprint elevations of a late Nostromo, notation reads:</p>
- Basic Lockheed CM 88B Bison transporter frame modified and fitted with a Yutani T7A NLS Stellar Drive. The original Saturn J3000 engines have been replaced by 2 Rolls Royce N66 Cyclone Thrust Tunnels with bi-polar vectoring for mid line life function. Each power plant developing 7,250,000 tons thrust (14,500,000,000 pounds) giving a high impulse total of 14,460,000 tons.
- The name is taken from the eponymous hero of the 1904 novel by Joseph Conrad.
- The original name for the spaceship was the Snark. This was later changed to the Leviathan before the crew finally settled for Nostromo.
- Some of the displays from the Nostromo are reused in Blade Runner, another one of Ridley Scott's films after Alien.
- During the film's opening sequence, as the camera wanders around the corridors of the Nostromo, we can clearly see a Krups coffee grinder mounted to a wall; this is the same model that became the “Mr. Fusion” in Back to the Future.