Top Ten Spaceships

In my never-ending quest to improve my site’s SEO I came across some random advice that says to write posts with top tens. Apparently, people love top tens, and when you look at popular sites such as Buzzfeed there do seem to be a lot of people who believe in this advice. Who am I to argue, so here is my top ten of spaceships.

There are a lot of spaceship size comparison websites out there, such as where nerds like me can look at beautiful spaceships all day if we want to - and I for one can certainly blow a whole afternoon that way, making zoom and pew pew noises as I click through that sweet, sweet spaceship art – but with so many spaceships to look at, where does a spaceship-curious noob start. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered, with my Top Ten Best Ever Spaceships from Sci-Fi TV and the Movies. The list excludes spaceships from Video Games, so you will not find the Normandy, universally loved by all right-thinking spaceship fans, but excluded from this list for technical reasons. The technical reason is that I don’t play a lot of video games.

As is traditional. We will start the listing of spaceships at the bottom, at number ten, and work up to the best ever spaceship, ever, at number one. Will the coolest spaceship be an X-Wing, the Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon, or even, Serenity, that spaceship from Firefly. There’s only one way to find out, and that is to read through the list. Okay, you can also scroll down right to the end, like flipping to the last page of a whodunnit, but only week-willed fools would... hey come back.

Number 10 – The Orion from 2001 a Space Odyssey

The Orion is a spacecraft, about the size of a Boeing 737, used in transit from Earth to Space Station V. In one stunning sequence it has to match the space station’s rotation to dock. Flight attendants on the Orion III wear large caps to contain their hair and Velcro "Grip Shoes" that prevent floating in weightless conditions. The team behind it, which included a couple of aerospace engineers, were tasked with creating a sort of absolute banal realism inside and out for the props and sets, which means that there is something very familiar and ordinary about this spaceship. It is elegant and slim, with a delightfully retro interior, and it seems so ordinary, you can absolutely imagine going for a trip in it. The Orion has a modernist, workmanlike beauty that is rare in the bombastic world of sci-fi. In short, the Orion is classy.

Number 9 – The D7-Class Battlecruiser

The D7 is a type of warship designed and built by the Klingon Empire and also used by the Romulans. It is a workhorse in service for over two and a quarter centuries. The D7 battlecruiser was first seen in the episode "Elaan of Troyius". It just makes excellent sense as a warship, with the big engineering hull and compact forward section a more warlike contrasting to the Enterprise's big saucer section to accommodate all the science labs and comfortable crew quarters. It also has a cool feather pattern scored into the dorsal engineering hull. The D7 class is almost predatory in its appearance, with the spread-wing hull of a raptor, along with a long neck and head-like bridge. It is comparable in size to the Federation's Constitution-class starship. It has two nacelle-mounted disruptor cannons, a forward-mounted phaser emitter, and a forward launcher capable of firing photon torpedoes, magnetic pulses and disruptor blasts. This is a spaceship designed to fight, and I secretly liked it better than the Enterprise the first time I watched Star Trek. See it in this video.

Number 8 – Eagle Transporter

This Eagle is a spacecraft from the 1970s British television series Space 1999. Eagles serve as the primary spacecraft of Moonbase Alpha, which has a fleet of them. They are used to explore alien planets, defend against attack, and to transport supplies and other items to and from the Moon. Few other space vehicles shown in any movie or TV series are as realistic as the eagle. It is a versatile, modular design allowing it to carry equipment such as containers, cranes, or passengers. It just looks like a piece of industrial design, rather than some futurist flight of fancy. It is heavy, tough and brutish looking, like a Humvee, and serves a similar role. Something so comfortable in its utilitarian lack of aesthetics often somehow becomes a thing of beauty, and that’s how it is with the Eagle, a worthy number eight. 

Number 7 – The Phoenix

The Phoenix appeared in Battle of the Planets, a 1978 American adaptation of the Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. The main ship of the team of heroes was called the Phoenix, which could carry, transport and deploy four smaller vehicles, each operated by one team member. The four vehicles included: a futuristic race car with various hidden weapons concealed within the Phoenix's nose, a futuristic motor cycle stored in the left wing capsule. An all-terrain, tank-like vehicle in the right wing capsule, and lastly, a futuristic jet fighter in the top rear section. The Phoenix can “transmute” into a flaming bird-shaped craft able to handle virtually any situation by functioning as a giant energy being called the Fiery Phoenix.

Number 6 – The Gunstar

The Gunstar is a small spaceship from the movie The Last Starfighter.This was probably the first movie to do all of its effects on a computer, a supercomputer, though your average laptop has the power to produce these effects now. The Gunstar is bulky and unapologetic in its lack of aerodynamics, which marks it out as very much a spaceship, rather than, a fighter jet transposed into space, which is all an X-wing is, much a I love them. Like a couple of other spaceships on this list, it is also hiding a secret weapon within its hull: the Death Blossom. The Death Blossom delivers one massive volley of laser blasts in all directions by forcing the ship into a rapid spin.

Number 5 – TARDIS

The TARDIS, famously, is dimensionally transcendental, meaning it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside. All this interior space means that the Doctor dos not lack for storage, he even has an entire room just to store one pair of rubber boots. The TARDIS is capable of travelling anywhere in time and space, and theoretically a TARDIS has a chameleon circuit that means it can disguise its external appearance as any object. Unfortunately, the chameleon circuit of the Doctor’s TARDIS is stuck, and he hasn’t got round to fixing it, meaning it retains the external shape of something called a police box.

I like sci-fi so much that I write it. The books I write belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog. Here are the first two lines of Galaxy Dog's blurb, so you can get a feel of the kind of thing these books are:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is ripsnorting space opera in the style of Doctor Who and Blake's 7, and they are available to buy from Amazon. Just click the link and take a look.

A lot of silly ideas have been attached to the TARDIS since the show was brought back, such as it being powered by the entire universe, or that a TARDIS is grown, not constructed, but the original concept of a means of transport, unlimited in where it can go and able to disguise itself, still shines through all these later accretions of overblown sillyness. Thanks to the busted chameleon circuit, the TARDIS may not look like much from the outside, but inside is one of the coolest control rooms or bridges of any spaceship. It has a central console, with a cool moving column in the middle, and a groovy 60s interior of white geodesic paterns. Now that’s a spaceship to travel the galaxy in comfort and style.

Number 4 – Battlestar Galactica

The Battlestar Galactica I’m talking about here is the 1978 version of the spaceship, the original and still the best. This ship is badass, and it has a complement of about 150 fighters called Vipers, which are also extremely cool. The spaceship is so cool they even named the TV show it appeared on after it, Battlestar Galactica. This series was one of the most expensive ever made, at the time, and it was also the earliest and most prominent of a whole host of attempts by rival studios to capitalize on the out-of-nowhere success of the original Star Wars. The series as a whole does not rise to the heights of Star Wars, but that was not the fault of the spaceship. The model built of Galactica for filming was six feet in length and weighed 60 pounds, which gives it a screen presence that is very difficult to match with CGI models. This monster model was built from various parts from hundreds of cannibalized plastic model kits, including mini-scaled battleships, land vehicles and planes, to give it all that little detail that makes it feel so huge.

Number 3 – Super Star Destroyer

If you think Battlestar Galactica is big, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The Super Star Destroyer is a much bigger spaceship, probably even bigger than you realise. The original trilogy features this massive Super Star Destroyer as Darth Vader's flagship in The Empire Strikes Back. The same Super Star Destroyer, still commanded by Admiral Piett, again appears as the Imperial command ship at the climax of Return of the Jedi. In the sequel trilogy movie, The Force Awakens, Rey pilots the Millennium Falcon through the wreckage of the crashed Super Star Destroyer, Ravager, during a chase scene. When a spaceship gets this big, it becomes more of a location for things to happen, rather than a spaceship that gets involved in battles. It is more scenery than a vehicle, especially when it is left as a ruin in the desert, like a lost city. Maybe that is why the scene where a super star destroyer crashes into the Death Star is so satisfying. It is action on such a massive scale that it is completely outside our real-life experiences, and isn’t that what space opera is about?

Number 2 – The Liberator

The Liberator is a powerful starship that is found and taken over by Blake and his followers who use it in their struggle against the Federation. The technology of the spaceship is more than simply advanced compared to that of the Federation, it is completely alien. All systems are self-regenerating and intrinsically computer-controlled. It is incredibly difficult to operate the ship without the computer systems' support. One of the ship's few weaknesses is the occasional need to cease operating to allow the energy banks to replenish themselves. The maximum speed of the Liberator is Standard by Twelve, which is very fast, much faster than any ship of the Federation. The main weapons are neutron blasters, which require a flare shield to be engaged in order to protect the crew. The ship's planetary attack weapons utilized plasma bolts. The ship has the first working teleport system encountered by humans, requiring the crew to wear a teleport bracelet which enables communication with the ship and teleport retrieval. The liberator is like the Excalibur of spaceships, a magical weapon that acts as a kingmaker, allowing a tiny band of rebels to stand up against a tyrannical regime. If the Liberator is such a powerful spaceship, it is tantamount to magic, and it is only at number two, which of the classic TV and movie spaceships can possibly be at number one?

Number 1 – The Millennium Falcon

Okay, this was probably not a big surprise, and it regularly tops the thousands of lists such as this one to be found around the interwebs, and it is for good reason. The Millennium Falcon is cool. There are lots of reasons it shouldn’t work: there is no space inside for cargo, or engines, it was cobbled together at the last minute, with the spaceship builders on Star Wars told to make it look like a burger, but despite all this, it is the spaceship most people think of when they imagine journeying through a galaxy far, far away, looking for adventure. Maybe it’s because the Millennium Falcon is a piece of junk. Bigger, more powerful spaceships are cool, but they are more difficult to identify with. A spaceship like the Millennium Falcon on the other hand, you could imagine owning that, if luck went your way, and you won if from a fellow scoundrel in a card game. That’s all for this top ten, but if you want more, Den of Geek has a spaceship top 75. Go there and gaze at more spaceships.