The Nostromo, an M-Class Lockmart CM 88B Bison starfreighter, was property of the Weylan-Yutani Corporation. It hauled a mile-long ore refinery that, on its final voyage, processed 20 million tons of raw ore. Valued at $42 million in adjusted dollars, the Nostromo was 334 metres (1095 feet) in length, 215 metres (705 feet) wide and 98 metres (320 feet) height. The ore refinery it towed was 1,927 metres (6,322 feet) long, 1,257 metres (4,124 feet), and 1,131 metres (3,712 feet) high, processing raw material on the long trip to Earth. The ship itself weighed, over 60,000 metric (66,138 US) tons, included three decks, four holds, stores, and engines and a shuttle named Narcissus. The ship was fitted with a self-destruct system. It was connected to the ore refinery platform via an umiblical detachment system.
The ship was equipped with a MU-TH-UR 182 model 2.1 terabyte AI mainframe (called "Mother" by the crew), available to command officers through a special interface room. The mainframe 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, and an infirmary. The ship also had a self-destruct system, which shut off the reactor cooling units, causing the engines to overheat and detonate precisely 10 minutes after initiation. There was an option to override the process prior to the last 5 minutes of the countdown. Cancelling the self-destruct sequence was a complicated procedure. Ripley's failure to complete the process resulted in the ship's destruction.
The crew consisted of seven people. There is also a ginger tom named Jones (often called "Jonesy" by the crew).
While returning to Earth from Thedus, the Nostromo was diverted to the Zeta II Reticuli system when the ship's mainframe intercepted a distress beacon originating from an uncharted planetoid (later named LV-426). The crew members were awakened prematurely from hypersleep and landed on the planetoid to investigate.. Executive Officer Kane was impregnated by a parasitic life form discovered within an ancient derelict space craft found on aboard a derelict spacecraft.
Kane was taken back to the Nostromo for medical treatment and the ship departed. Within 20 hours , Kane died when the creature within him burst violently out of his chest during the crew's pre-hypersleep meal and fled to the furthest reaches of the ship. The creature matured into an adult and began killing the crewmembers one by one. The situation worsened when the survivors discovered that Ash was a synthetic assigned by the Company to preserve the creature and bring it back to Earth. The survivors decided to destroy the ship by scuttling it and to escape on the shuttle, despite its limited capacity. Ripley initiated the self-destruct sequence. Parker and Lambert were killled by the alien as they gathered supplies for the journey. When she realized the alien was between her and the shuttle, Ripley attempted to halt the destruct sequence, but was too late. With 5 minutes remaining, she escaped in the shuttle with Jones, only to discover the alien had hidden aboard. Ripley blasted it out the airlock and it was incinerated as the shuttle's engines ignited.
- Dallas, Arthur Coblenz - Captain (ID# 032/V4-07C)
- Kane, Gilbert Ward 'Thomas' - Executive Officer (ID# 825/G9-01K)
- Ripley, Ellen Louise - Warrant Officer (ID# 759/L2-01N)
- Ash - Science Officer (ID# 111/C2/01X)
- Lambert, Joan Marie - Navigator (ID# 971/L6-02P)
- Parker, Denis Monroe - Chief Engineer (ID# 313/S4-08M)
- Brett, Samuel Elias - Engineering Technician (ID# 724/R4-06J)
The Nostromo was designed by Ron Cobb and Chris Foss. Foss' highly organic visions of the spacecraft were integrated with Cobb's NASA-like utilitarian renderings by Brian Johnson, who oversaw the building of the miniature. 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:
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.
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