The Derelict is the informal designation for the spacecraft discovered on the Acheron LV-426 moon and operated by the mysterious Space Jockey race. In 2122 an unknown warning signal broadcast from the Derelict summoned the Weyland-Yutani commercial hauler USCSS Nostromo to the Acheron moon. The Derelict is believed to have crashed on Acheron several millennia prior to the arrival of the Nostromo. The port prong on The Derelict measure 161.6 meters in length and the starboard prong 174.3 meters. The craft is 116.6 meters wide and 61.0 meters wide between the starboard and port prongs. According to official historical records The Derelict was thought to be destroyed in 2179 when the atmospheric processor on the Acheron moon entered meltdown, but it somehow survived and was later explored by a Colonial Marines squad.
The Derelict is a large, asymmetrical, wishbone-shaped craft, with a thickened central section between two horns, which bend upwards. It has numerous tunnels that go off to many places. It has three large openings near ground level between two horns, leading into the ship's interior. It is through one of these openings that three of the Nostromo crew members (Captain Dallas, Navigator Lambert, and Executive Officer Kane) entered the ship. The interior of the Derelict resembled more a living organism than a spacegoing vessel, with skeletal walls, circular gangways and steep passages.
One interesting aspect of the ship is that exactly what part of the ship seen by the Nostromo's crew goes completely unexplained. It would seem to be the bow, or front, because the exterior of the ship looks almost like the stern (back-end) of a ship that has hit the ground and buried its nose in the dirt.
The Space Jockey remains in his pilot seat, as seen in Aliens: Colonial Marines.
In an enormous cockpit room, on a turntable-like structure is an Engineer that appears to have been dead for an extremely long time, since it was fossilized. It appeared to have grown out of its equally enormous chair. It was sitting at the pilot's seat, which resembles a giant telescopic object that pointed upward. It also had a large hole in its chest with bones bent outward, as it appears, a chestbuster came out.
Kane, the Executive Officer, found a large hole near the side of the Space Jockey's "turntable." The hole opened out into a pit, apparently burned through by acid. The crewman volunteered to go down and investigate.
Upon reaching the bottom he discovered that he was inside an enormous cave-like cargo space filled with thousands of "leathery objects like eggs," covered by a thin layer of blue mist that reacted when broken, which has been referred to as some sort of stasis field, possibly to keep the eggs safely contained.
The origin of the Derelict and the Engineer who piloted it remain unknown. From what is seen aboard the Derelict in Alien, it would appear that it crashed after the Engineer piloting it was impregnated by a Facehugger The Atmosphere Processor explosion, which occurred near the central colony complex, probably did not destroy the Derelict. The Jorden family are said to have headed out past 'the Illium Range', supposedly a mountain range, which may have protected the Derelict from the explosion.
Concept and design
According to the book Giger's Alien, the eggs were originally meant to be housed in a completely separate architectural structure, shaped in the form of a massive pyramid. The origins of the pyramid are not clear.
More than 100 prop eggs were created for the scene of Kane's exploration of the "cave" under The Derelict. One special hero-egg prop was created with a top that could peel open by hydraulics. The scene of Kane being attacked was filmed on September 10, 1978.
Ridley Scott has stated in respect to the production of Alien that he wanted to make "a slasher movie in space". The Derelict is intended as an updated version of "a dark, old, haunted house", as is the Nostromo.
It was later confirmed that the eggs were never stored within the cargo hold of the Derelict Ship. During the production of Prometheus, Ridley Scott stated that the eggs were actually being stored inside a subterranean part of a hidden Engineer temple, which was located below the Derelict.
Originally, the first script for Alien featured a pyramid that H.R. Giger called the "Egg-Silo." Due to the time and budget, the pyramid was dropped from the story when the script was rewritten and retitled to Alien. Because of the loss of the pyramid, Ridley had to come up with a way of explaining why an Alien ship had the eggs of a dangerous lifeform on it, which sparked his idea of an Egg-Bomber.
When Prometheus was still in production, Ridley wanted to go back and use the pyramid idea that was removed during the rewrite of the original Alien story. Since the Engineers had association with pyramids and temples, Ridley changed his Egg-Bomber explanation and went back to the original idea that the eggs were being stored inside a temple.