This week my compulsion to rank and list continues as I turn my need for order towards spaceships. Spaceships are defined as manned spacecraft. Dictionary.com defines a spacecraft as a vehicle designed for travel or operation in space beyond the Earth’s atmosphere or in orbit around the Earth. Something to keep in mind as we examine the rules.
The list shall only include ships with a proper given name, not types of ships like X-Wing or Space Shuttle. The list shall be constructed from both real and fictional spaceships. I know, it seems irrational to rank a fictional ship anywhere on the list above a real ship, but I’ve managed to do so nonetheless. I hope you’ll forgive me. Now that the rules are out of the way, let’s continue on to the top ten greatest spaceships of all time.
The Top Ten Greatest Spaceships of All Time
1) Eagle (Apollo 11 Lunar Module, NASA)
The Eagle is the spaceship that landed on the Earth’s moon on July 20, 1969. While some may argue that it was all staged, I have confidence it was real. In my youth, I had my very own Apollo 11 ball cap that has since been lost to the four winds. I’m sure it is blowing around somewhere on the horizon with the tumbleweeds. Apollo 11 provided humanity’s single greatest milestone in the exploration of space to date. I look forward to replacing the Eagle atop the list when humans finally land on Mars.
2) USS Enterprise (Star Trek)
The Starship Enterprise explored the galaxy and travelled where no one had gone before. The spaceship marked NCC-1701 travelled back in time, rescued the stranded, orbited alien planets, and battled Klingons. Captained by Kirk and Picard, it was the flagship of the federation and helped entertain countless science fiction fans. The Enterprise represents the benchmark for all other spaceships.
3) Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)
Han Solo and Chewbacca smuggled goods and outraced the empire in this bucket of bolts. Its extreme speed and secret compartments always came in handy when escaping the bad guys—at least when the ship managed to work. The Falcon has a coolness factor that surpasses its cumbersome design. I’m hopeful that the rumors are true that it will make its return in Episode 7.
4) Space Shuttle Columbia (NASA)
The Columbia was the first space worthy shuttle in the NASA orbital fleet. It, like the Apollo 11 so many years before, carried the hopes and dreams of so many beyond the confines of Earth. At long last, humans could fly back and forth to outer space in a reusable spaceship. The seven brave explorers who lost their lives when the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry after its twenty-seventh mission will not be forgotten.
5) Battlestar Galactica (Battlestar Galactica)
The Galactica led a ragtag group of refugees across the galaxy while fighting off the villainous Cylons. Star of not one but two popular television shows, it was a pure fighting ship, forced to play the role of a shepherd. As a kid, I found myself sketching many battlestars and star fighters inspired by the Galactica and its swarm. I can only wonder when the next Galactica reboot will soar across my screen.
6) SpaceShipOne (Mojave Aerospace Ventures)
The privatization of space travel reached its first milestone when SpaceShipOne completed a manned spaceflight in 2004. The $10 million Ansari X Prize it won was only a fraction of the funding required for it to reach space. The venture marked a transfer of focus for the super wealthy adventurers of the world to vistas beyond Earth. As these bold explorers continue to tame space, they will pull us along with them.
7) Death Star (Star Wars)
The most terrifying of all spaceships suffered from an egregious design flaw. The moon-sized ship lumbered through space on its way to destroying entire planets. The Empire continued to pin all of its hopes on this devastating construct, but each time, the rebels managed to find its poorly hidden self-destruct button. I expect that with some clever redesign, the Death Star could truly become the ultimate power in the galaxy.
8) International Space Station (NASA, Roskosmos, JAXA, ESA, CSA)
The ISS holds the record for the longest continual presence of humans in space at 13 years, 121 days, and counting. The international community continues to jointly operate the orbiting spaceship for research on the effects of space. Their bold efforts are critical for humanity’s continued expansion beyond Earth.
9) Serenity (Firefly, Serenity)
Her captain bought her at a used ship lot, but the Serenity more than proved her worth. The ship carried a fearless crew from adventure to adventure, where they always found time to save the day. Unlike some other spaceships, the Serenity never overpowered anyone. It prospered from the wits of captain and crew.
10) Jupiter 2 (Lost in Space)
The Jupiter 2 first graced the television screen in 1965, carrying a desperate group of humans on their quest to become un-lost. Along the way they found the universe to be populated with monsters and aliens. The spaceship borrowed design cues from the classic image of flying saucers. It will always feel like home to the show’s fans.
> Nostromo (Alien)
> Icarus (Planet of the Apes)
> Discovery One (2001: A Space Odyssey)
> Spaceball One (Spaceballs)
> Moonraker (James Bond)
> Columbiad (From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
> Axiom (Wall-E)
> Babylon 5 space station (Babylon 5)
> S. S. Heart of Gold (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)
> Many others