Top 10 Sci-Fi Movie Spaceships

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2011 09:00 pm GMT -4 by

When I sat down to write this article, it began as the top 10 spaceships… period. But as the list started coming together, it rapidly grew far too massive to contain to 10 ships. There were great ships from television (Red Dwarf, the TARDIS, Vipers), books (the Icarus, Brainship), and of course movies. So instead of leaving some of my favorites on the cutting room floor as it were, I decided to break the list into parts.

The first list is spaceships from film. Of course, there are a few that cross over with television and books and a couple that touch on all three. There really isn’t much criteria involved in my selections. Many of these are iconic ships but the list isn’t based on popularity or power of the ship. Instead, it’s all personal preference. The only real criteria I used was that I chose to leave off space-stations like the Death Star and Deep Space 9 (for a possible fourth list?). So without further ado, here are my top 10 spaceships from science fiction film…

10. The Executor

The Imperial Star Destroyer in the longshot opening to ‘Star Wars’ is one of the most iconic images in movie history. But it’s Darth Vader’s personal ship, the Executor (which first appeared in ‘Empire Strikes Back’), that is the crème de la crème of the Empire’s forces. This thing is 11 miles long, houses its own fleet of TIE-fighters and AT-ATs, and has over 5,000 weapons along its massive body. The Executor is a pure death machine if ever there was one.

9. Max

In Disney’s ‘Flight of the Navigator’, the Trimaxian Drone Ship, or Max as it is affectionately called, is a ship piloted by an artificial intelligence. The ship is a collector from the planet Phaelon that travels around collecting biological samples of life around the universe. When Max pays a visit to Earth, he befriends a young boy named David who, after a series of unfortunate events, ends up being Max’s only chance of returning to his home planet.

8. The Borg Cube

The Borg are probably the most feared race of beings in the entire Star Trek universe. A race of beings with a collective hive-mind, the Borg are virtually unstoppable. If you harm them once, they adapt and can’t be harmed the same way a second time. When they set their sights on Earth in ‘Star Trek: First Contact’, it’s up to the crew of the Enterprise to risk everything to stop them from wiping out the entire planet.

7. X-wing starfighter

As kid growing up in the early 80s, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. He was a jedi that got to travel around with robots and aliens. But, for me, the icing on the cake was that Luke got to pilot the X-wing fighter. The X-wing isn’t as powerful, fast, or able to travel long distances like other ships like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. But, as an 8 year old boy, the X-wing was the spaceship equivalent of a racecar. It was sleek. It was fast. And, darn it!… it was just cool. Plus Luke took down the Death Star using just a single shot from his X-wing (with a little assistance from the force).

6. The Mothership from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’

Anyone who has ever seen ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ can probably hum the musical tune from the alien ship from memory. Like E.T. That would come later, director Steven Spielberg touches on sci-fi magic with this movie. The wonderous idea of first contact with an alien race is so beautifully orchestrated that one can’t help but wish that they were Roy at the finale when he is allowed to come on board the mothership.

5. Slave I

For a character that has… what?… three lines in the entire original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, the bounty hunter Boba Fett has developed a cult following and a reputation as one of Star Wars’ resident badasses. His reputation is in no small part thanks to the design team from Lucasarts that created the characters. His Mandalorian armor is one of the most recognizable costumes in all of sci-fi. Even Fett’s ship, the Slave I, is an design exercise in cool. It’s essentially a spaceship version of a VTOL vehicle in that it lands in a horizontal positions, yet rotates upright for flight. Plus, as seen in ‘Attack of the Clones’, it’s pretty darn maneuverable in a firefight.

4. The Heart of Gold

The ship belonging (sort of) to ex-Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the more unusual ships in any known science fiction universe. The Heart of Gold is powered by the “infinite improbability drive”. This allows the ship to travel “through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe almost simultaneously”. According to the Douglas Adams’ novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe’, that means that those travelling via infinite improbability are “never sure where they’ll end up or even what species they’ll be when they get there”.

3. The Millennium Falcon

Piloted by the rogue Han Solo and his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca, the Millennium Falcon is hands-down the best ship in all of the Star Wars universe. According to Han, the Falcon “may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts”. After all, the Falcon did make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs and led the assault against the second Death Star in ‘Return of the Jedi’.

2. Serenity

Like the Millennium Falcon, the Firefly class transport ship Serenity is often viewed by outsiders to be a piece of junk. But the crew of the ship, under the command Captain Malcolm Reynolds, know better. Serenity, as piloted by Hoban “Wash” Washburne, has come through on many an occasion, including revealing the truth about the monsterous Reavers in the feature film ‘Serenity’.

1. USS Enterprise 1701-D

As awesome as some of the other ships on this list are, there is only one ship that could possibly hold the top spot on my list of favorite spaceships. Most of the other ships on this list are great in that they are awesome to watch on the big screen but I wouldn’t actually want to fly on most of them. The Enterprise-D is the exception. I grew up during the ‘Next Generation’ era of ‘Star Trek’ and, with it’s holodeck, replicators, and (most of all) amazing crew, I wanted to live aboard this incarnation of the USS-Enterprise as it went about its “continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Do you agree with my picks? If not, what ships would you have included on your own top movie spaceships list? Comment below and let me know.

  • What… no Saceballs flying winnebego?! lol

  • Soundtracklover1

    I guess the Discovery’s application was just lost in the mail…

  • Soundtracklover1

    And Galaxy class!?  Constitution class is where it’s at… ;)

    • No way! Those little ships look shoddy by comparison. ;)

      • Soundtracklover1

        Like hell they do!  The Discovery was designed to function as an actual spacecraft, unlike so many that are just the result of wild imagination *cough* Star Destroyer, Enterprise, Mellenium Falcon, any flying saucer, etc.  And the original Enterprise was just so iconic…  Hard to beat an original!

  • Lucy

    I was hoping to see the Tardis or Andromeda! *sniff*

  • The Nostromo.  My chest bursts at the thought it was not included! 

  • humanx

    no Cheyenne dropship from Aliens? Colonial Vipers, Cylon Raiders?  6 out of 10 from two franchises? that seems a little biased.

    • The TV list is going to be much harder to put together. It may end up being a top 20 just so some of the great ships aren’t lost. As for film… Trek and Wars do have the monopoly based on sheer number of films alone.

  • See my opening paragraph for my thoughts on including the TARDIS. When I make my list of best television ships, it’ll definitely be there!

  • I’ve never been a big Aliens fan. And as for Vipers and Raiders… see my opening paragraph. The vipers will definitely make my television list. :)

    • humanx

      yes, i saw it after posting. in my haste to see what you picked, it seems i overlooked your intro, which is now noted.  what about some of the classic B-movie ships, like the United Planets Cruiser C57-D from Forbidden Planet?  Or even a Gunstar?  i agree that these lists would be very difficult to narrow down. carry on!

      • The Gunstars did cross my mind so consider them on the “honorable mentions list” along with Moya from Farscape. :)

  • The Enterprise D as number 1 = instant win for me.  If the BSG mini-series counted as a movie spaceship then The Grand Old Lady, aka Galactica, would be my number 1.

    • I didn’t consider BSG as a movie so I skipped Galactica and the Vipers. They’ll be in the running for the TV spaceship list that is sure to be somewhere down the road.

  • Nebulamycn18

    I LOVE your list cuz it just helped me win an Argument (enterprise D forever!!!!!) but a FANTASTIC ship that is missing from this list is the TARDIS. That made me sad

    • Emily Pv

      Sorry just read the opening paragraph scratch that

  • Nmpollock78

    Where’s Moya?

    • Moya is a television ship. All of my picks above are from movies only. That’s why no Moya, Galactica, Vipers, TARDIS, or otherwise.

      • Lordbeetle

        The TARDIS was in two theatrical movies.

        • Point taken. But those two movies were non-canon and not very good. So I wouldn’t include that particular version of the TARDIS on this list either way.

  • Tim McNulty

    Sorry, but the greatest space vessel of all time is the Eagle Transporter from Space 1999. Pity about the rest  of the show

  • Stephen

    1.  Space 1999 Eagle Transporter
    2.  American Airlines Space Freighter “Valley Forge” from “Silent Running”
    3.  “Red Dwarf”
    4.  “Discovery 1″ from “2001: A Space Odyssey”
    5.  “Starfire” from “Jason of Star Command”
    6.  “Don Juan” from Larry Niven’s “A World Out of Time”
    7.  “Roger Young” from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers
    8.  “Serenity” from “Firefly”
    9.  “USS Enterprise” from Star Trek (no bloody A, B, C or D!)
    10.  Millennium Falcon

  • Daniel

    2001 A Space Odyssey: Discovery 1
    Star Trek: MOVIE Enterprise Wrath Of Kahn
    Marooned: Ironman1 AND XRV
    Conquest of Space: Mars Winged Lander
    Silent Running: Valley Forge
    Forbidden Planet: Cruiser 57

  • Alanhardyman

    do you not think that enterprise ncc 1701-e deserves a mention?

  • Fritz

    Did nobody RTFA? Movies only! Otherwise, the Eagle would be a sure thing. 

    For movies, I give a thumbs up to…

    1) The ORIGINAL Enterprise (from the first three movies). It is a tribute to the strength of the original TV design that it has never looked dated, and after several attempts to redesign it, they ended up back at the beginning. It’s the 65 ‘Stang of spaceships.
    2) The Nostromo, from Alien. Because you believe it.  
    3) The Discovery, from 2001. Ditto, and with far more stately elegance.
    4) The X-Wing, because we all want one.
    5) The Space Ark from When Worlds Collide, because pre-Apollo movie rockets looked like what we all think a spaceship SHOULD look like: sleek and shiny.
    6) C-57D, from Forbidden Planet, although the saucers from Harryhausen’s Earth vs. the Flying Saucers are arguably cooler. Both of them convince you that rockets are for posers. 
    7) Space Battleship Yamato, from the film of the same name. Nothing says badass like a battleship, and the Yamato was the baddest of them all.
    8) The Mothership from Close Encounters, because if I had a flying saucer, it would have serious audio. 
    9) The Tie-Fighter, because if spaceships DID make a sound, that’s what the bad guys spaceships would sound like. 
    10) The Valley Forge, from Starship Troopers, for the best death scene by a spaceship ever.