Prometheus: Coolest Spaceship in a Long Time

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I’m pretty critical of spaceship designs in sci-fi. Most look cool, but are completely unrealistic. This is not the case with the Prometheus from Ridley Scott’s forthcoming film.

The USCSS Prometheus — from the upcoming eponymously-titled film by Ridley Scott — traverses above the clouds.

I’m pretty critical of spaceship designs. While many in sci-fi films and TV shows are designed to look cool, most are completely unrealistic. They’re designed from the outside in as opposed to the inside out. Form way over function. The tech and interior components are often shoved inside or forced to make sense.

I feel like most of the ships in Star Wars fit this; they’re about aesthetics rather than good science. How would any of them function? Is there really enough room for the necessary systems (like life support)? Could one actually enter an atmosphere at orbital velocity?

The USCSS Prometheus lands on a planet amidst some awesome lighting.

I know… most people just want ships to be memorable and amazing. But as a person who knows a little about aerospace and industrial design, I need vehicles to make sense within their contextual world. They can be both practical and very cool.

This appears to be the case with the USCSS Prometheus from the forthcoming Ridley Scott film of the same title. I’ve not seen a sci-fi vehicle design this iconic since the Spinner from Blade Runner in 1982.

The USCSS Nostromo from the 1979 film Alien — as recreated with CG.

Whether the filmmakers want to come out and say it or not, Prometheus is a prequel to Alien and utilizes many thematic and visual cues from the 1979 classic. There’s a clear design lineage between the Nostromo and this craft.

The basic shape is outstanding and extremely memorable. It harkens back to the symmetry of Matt Jeffries’ USS Enterprise, in the original Star Trek, with its powerful engines and curved (semi-aerodynamic) body in a perfect dynamic balance.

I also love that the engines can swivel for VTOL capability and serve as landing gear. The surface details of the craft look tangible — extremely industrial and robust. This feels like a real ship that was designed by actual engineers.

The USCSS Prometheus on the reflective surface of an Apple ad.

Blueprints of the USCSS Prometheus give a sense of the VTOL engines.

From the schematics seen here, serious thought was involved; someone wanted this to be believable. That authenticity of design gives films like Prometheus a narrative foundation that makes them appear to exist in the real world and not within a realm of total fantasy!

If only it were real. I’d go for a ride in a heartbeat! Hats off to Ridley and his production team on giving us something that’s already extremely exciting without having the film yet. Clearly someone on his team gets it. Good sci-fi is ultimately about people, but depicting their toys and chariots in a convincing way makes all the difference!

The USCSS Prometheus rockets into the atmosphere.