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The Largest Spaceships and Space Stations in Science Fiction

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Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Ced's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.

Humongous Spaceships in Science Fiction and Pop Culture

Humongous Spaceships in Science Fiction and Pop Culture

Incredible Spaceships That Are Miles and Miles Long

A space destroyer well over ten miles wide. An enigmatic intergalactic cruiser that is so huge, you’d need a day, if not a week, to walk from aft to stern.

For over half a century, impossibly huge spaceships, or BDOs (Big Dumb Objects), has been a staple in science fiction and pop culture. Typically intended as metaphors for power, technological superiority, or mystery, such incredible spacecraft are magnets for their genres. After all, who would not be fascinated by a space cruiser large enough to house a city, a forest, or even an ocean?

Here are 25 of the largest spaceships in science fiction! With China recently expressing interest in building a mile-long spaceship, perhaps Earth will soon own such unbelievable space vessels, too.

Notes

  • This list doesn’t strictly list the largest spaceships from science fiction and pop culture franchises. In some cases, smaller but more noteworthy giants are listed.
  • Many franchises blur the lines between spaceships and space stations. For example, the Death Star, though described as a space station, can easily travel across the galaxy like a Star Destroyer. (And it does move about, a lot.) Notable names from both categories are thus included on this list.
  • Further to (B), immobile creations are excluded. Thus, Starkiller Base isn’t on this list.
  • Some franchises, such as Star Trek and EVE Online, are utterly specific when it comes to measurements. Others leave it to the imagination of fans. There are also cases where stated dimensions markedly differ or have been in debate for decades. As much as possible, this list uses numbers commonly agreed upon.
  • To include as many names as possible, there will not be multiple entries from the same franchise.

25 Largest Spaceships and Space Stations from Science Fiction and Pop Entertainment

  1. Alpha
  2. Belial Gore
  3. Ceph Warship
  4. Death Star
  5. Gradius Motherships
  6. Harvester Mothership
  7. Heighliner
  8. Installation 00
  9. V Mothership
  10. Phalanx
  11. Prawn's Unnamed Spaceship
  12. Rama
  13. Ringworld
  14. Scarran Dreadnough
  15. Side 7
  16. Spaceball One
  17. The Lexx
  18. The Tet
  19. The Wandering Earth
  20. EVE Online Titans
  21. Vorlon Planet Killer
  22. V'ger
  23. Wraith Hive Ships
  24. Tirolian Motherships
  25. Zerg Leviathans
Valerian flying through Alpha, the space city that’s home to thousands of species.

Valerian flying through Alpha, the space city that’s home to thousands of species.

1. Alpha (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets)

Luc Besson’s 2017 space opera extravaganza received mixed reviews, but what’s undeniable is that it served up one of the most rousing science fiction movie sequences ever. “Alpha” was originally the International Space Station (ISS), repeatedly expanded over a century as more nations achieved space-faring ability and with humans also establishing contact with numerous extraterrestrial races.

Eventually, the ISS became so phenomenally large, its weight endangered Earth. And so mobile rockets were used to propel the now city-like structure into deep space. Effectively transforming the space station into a gargantuan starship.

Within the movie, no dimensions were ever given for Alpha. It’s also tough to even begin to describe the Daedalian appearance. That said, with a stated growing population of almost 30 million and Valerian himself able to fly a vessel within it, for quite a while, one can easily imagine how large and complex the City of a Thousand Planets became.

To say it’s at least moon-like is not an exaggeration.

2. Belial Gore (Edens Zero)

A battleship and space-colony hybrid, Belial Gore was the base of the unscrupulous Drakken Joe in Hiro Mashima’s 2018 space adventure Manga. Large enough to contain a city surrounded by fields, the rather Lovecraftian-like ship also enjoys an ability common to advanced vessels in Mashima’s universe; it can self-repair its hull.

Definitely a spacefarer's dream, be it to impress, to manage, or just to live in.

3. Ceph Warship (Crysis)

Here’s the oversized monstrosity that possibly inspired Roland Emmerich’s Harvesters’ Mothership (see below). The Ceph Warship from Crysis 3 is estimated to be, check this out, some 510 miles in width. Somewhat resembling a mollusk with tentacles and all, it’s also no more than just one evolved Ceph dispatched to destroy the surface of the Earth. Which it can effortlessly do so, by the way with one blast.

Much more, much more frighteningly, Crysis 3 hints at there being many other such leviathans in the Cephs’ galaxy. Is the one seen in the game therefore just a smaller vanguard? A little brother?

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A horrible truth perhaps awaits in a new generation of Crysis games.

The Death Star. The most iconic huge space station and planet destroyer in pop culture.

The Death Star. The most iconic huge space station and planet destroyer in pop culture.

4. Death Star (Star Wars)

Star Wars is the one name that most people would think of when asked about the biggest starships and battle stations in pop culture, and not just because this is one of the most successful, most profitable space opera franchises ever.

The first Death Star (160 km diameter) from the 1977 movie is neither the largest nor the most powerful fictional space station ever. Frankly, it doesn’t even look too impressive by today’s graphic standards. And yet, the Death Star is the face of the humongous space station trope. Its status in pop culture was forever enshrined when a young Luke Skywalker mistook it for a moon.

Down the road, franchise writers introduced increasingly astonishing dimensions for Star wars starships too. A mass-produced Imperial Star Destroyer is 1.6 km long, while an Executor-class Star Destroyer is 19 km. The second uncompleted Death Star was to be over 200 km in diameter, while Snork’s Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy is over 60 km wide and 13 km long.

One wonders whether resource management was remotely a consideration when “conceptualizing” these behemoths. There is also the irony that despite their sizes, most of these giants were destroyed with relative ease. The extra hull space did not help, to say the least.

5. Gradius Motherships (Gradius)

Have you ever played Konami’s Gradius series? If so, you’d surely know that end-stages always involve flying through some sort of huge enemy mothership.

A staple of the franchise, specific sizes have never been revealed but with these behemoths large enough to fill entire stages, one can easily imagine how unbelievably large they are. Notably, most if not all of these fortresses are controlled by brain-like beings too, the majority of which are weirdly defenseless when confronted.

Needless to say, the trope of an entire enemy space vessel as a stage has appeared in other video game shooters too. Axelay, another Konami shooter, is one example.

6. Harvester Mothership (Independence Day: Resurgence)

Roland Emmerich is a name famous/notorious among movie lovers for big-budget visual catastrophes. Little surprise, therefore, that the German director anchored his 1996 showpiece, Independence Day, on huge alien flyer saucers and multi-city destructions.

In turn, the box office success of Independence Day must have convinced Emmerich that the way forth is to go even bigger. And so for his 2016 sequel, the man got even more phenomenal with his dimensions.

Simply put, the Harvester Mothership in Independence Day: Resurgence is estimated at some 3000 miles wide, large enough to cover a quarter of the Earth as it “dug in.” The monstrosity is so large, it could even support its own ecological system.

One does wonder why the Harvesters need to harvest Earth when they have the resources to build such enormous horrors. But perhaps that itself is the reason. The Harvesters were so obsessed with size, they depleted their homeworlds. They had no choice but to harvest others.

7. Heighliner (Dune)

Despite its legendary status in the genre, Frank Herbert’s Dune does not feature big spaceships as a major trope. That is, except for the Heighliners, described in the novel as over 20 km long.

The only way to transport man and cargo across the galaxy in the Dune universe, little else is known about these container vessels other than they were operated by Guild Navigators of the Spacing Guild, and that the spice Melange is necessary for Navigators to achieve the prescience needed to safely traverse folded space.

Literary critics have, in turn, praised Herbert’s skillful ambiguity as a core element of the series’ success. Very simply, a sense of awe and mystery was maintained throughout the novels. You know what these silent giants do, but you have no clue as to how they actually work.

This fascination is similar to the awe of a space passenger traveling through a huge Heighliner for the first time. This is a captivation that soon becomes dreamy.

8. Installation 00 (Halo)

If asked, most players will immediately name the Halo Rings as the most memorable megastructures from the Halo video game franchise. This makes it easy to forget that there’s something else in the games that’s way more fantastical as far as size is concerned. Or should I say, two?

The Arks are two flower-like Forerunner installations that not only manufacture the immense Halo Rings, they serve as activation switches positioned outside the life-ending effects of the Halos. The latter, in turn, enables the Arks to play a conservatory role when the Halos are activated and with larger Halos being 30,000 km in diameter, one can easily imagine just how planet-like these installations are.

To further go into specifics, the Greater Ark, which manufactured the 30,000 km Halos, was destroyed in the Flood War and so its size is unknown. The Lesser Ark, or Installation 00, produces 10,000 km Halos, and is stated as 127,530 km wide.

You will surely agree that the six-digit figure makes Installation 00 easily one of the largest artificial objects in science fiction and pop entertainment. This “honor” is likely to remain for a long time too.

A Visitors’ (V) Mothership hovering over Rome. A Visitors’ (V) Mothership hovering over Rome. Soon, its inhabitants will be making pasta with humans.

A Visitors’ (V) Mothership hovering over Rome. A Visitors’ (V) Mothership hovering over Rome. Soon, its inhabitants will be making pasta with humans.

9. Motherships (V)

Are flying saucers inherently sinister or is it because malevolent aliens always arrive in these in the earliest sci-fi movies?

Whichever the answer, the trope is enduringly popular, with the most notable example from the 1980s being Kenneth Johnson’s V. Graceful and symmetrical, almost an adornment for the national capitals they hover over, these five-mile wide motherships were a stark metaphor for the beings they carry. The humanoids they ferry appear and act benevolent but all hide a truly dreadful palate. To say the least

Jump forth a decade, the saucer trope was repeated in 1996’s Independence Day. This time, the alien saucers (City Destroyers) are some 15 miles in diameter. Worse, the aliens within don’t even pretend to be benevolent. They announce their arrival by combusting entire cities.

10. Phalanx (Warhammer 40K)

The phenomenally popular Warhammer 40k miniature wargame series holds many attractions for science fiction lovers, one of which is surely the amazing sizes of its spaceships. In this universe, simple escort vehicles could be 3 km long, while battleships are anything from 3 to 8 km.

Above these giants then loom the incredible Phalanx, a fortress-monastery with no official size but described as large enough to reflect light. (In other words, moon-like) Constructed by unknown beings before the main timeline of the franchise, Phalanx slipped into disrepair but has since been restored. Even if you’re not a fan of the wargame, you’d surely be awed just by reading the descriptions of this space fortress.

11. Prawn’s Unnamed Spaceship (District 9)

Most genre fans associate humongous space vessels with power, unfathomable tech, and destruction. The unnamed alien homeship in Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 is perhaps capable of all these, but the beings it carried were certainly nowhere near the sort of hyper-advanced, space-faring race humans would expect from such a ship.

One of the boldest explorations of xenophobia and apartheid in the speculative genre, this home vessel, estimated at 2.5 km in diameter, is further notable for being a mystery even to the “prawns” it ferried. The huge saucer clearly stocks superior weapons and armaments, but these are largely inaccessible even to the prawns.

Perhaps a movie sequel, long anticipated by fans, will finally reveal the true splendors, or horrors, of this starship.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a total of four books for the Rama series.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a total of four books for the Rama series.

12. Rama (Rendezvous With Rama)

Many science fiction franchises use intricate, silently threatening hulls when it comes to the design of their largest spaceships. The great Arthur C. Clarke, on the other hand, opted for the simplest of shapes when conceptualizing what is hands down his most fascinating Big Dumb Object.

Named Rama by humans, the enigmatic alien vessel at the heart of Clarke’s 1973 novel is a perfect cylinder 50 km long and 20 km wide, and contains within it a miniature world. Yes, a cylindrical world complete with cities, atmosphere, even a sea.

What makes the vessel a genre icon is furthermore how Clarke never fully explained just what “Rama” is; that is, not till the final book in 1993. Without giving away spoilers, let’s just say the explanation doesn’t just only sense, it indirectly justifies the functional shape.

After all, you wouldn’t want your work equipment to be overly ornate, would you?

Book cover for The Ringworld Throne, the third book in Arthur C. Clarke’s most celebrated series.

Book cover for The Ringworld Throne, the third book in Arthur C. Clarke’s most celebrated series.

13. Ringworld (Book Series of the Same Name)

Ever played Halo? The legendary Xbox video game series celebrated as one of the most critically successful ever? If so, you’d surely be familiar with the Halo Rings and the fact that these ring-like megastructures did not originate from the game series.

First proposed by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, space stations in the form of a rotating wheel have constantly appeared in science fiction since the genre’s earliest days. Among the many examples, the most famous example is undoubted the circular world at the heart of Larry Niven’s Ringworld series.

Described as approximately 1.6 million km wide and near 300 million km in diameter, Niven’s eponymous artificial habitat encircles a star, and as far as size is concerned, utterly dwarves even the larger Halo Rings (30,000 km in diameter). Like Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama, the Ringworld is also a classic BDO of science fiction.

14. Scarran Dreadnought (Farscape)

The celebrated Farscape series, tragically canceled after four seasons because of budget issues, has its share of humongous spaceships. Internet references strangely disagree on the specs of these ships, but even at their minimum, these dimensions effortlessly impress.

For example, the Scarran Dreadnought, which vaguely resembles a battering ram, is at least 3.4 km long. Some sources even claim it’s over 10 km long.

What’s noteworthy is also how size doesn’t equate to true might in Farscape. Despite its magnitude, a Scarran Dreadnought can be quickly disabled by precision attacks. Such complexity of story is perhaps why the Australian-American series remains beloved today.

15. Side 7 (Gundam)

The undisputed King of Mecha is more famous for humanoid “mobile suits,” but that doesn’t mean there are no big ships in the Gundam franchise.

In fact, the very first series began on a huge space megastructure. Alternatively known as Noa and one of several massive space colonies near Earth, Side 7 is described by Gundam fandom as 6.4 km in width and 36 km in length. An artificial habitat so expansive, towering robots can liberally do aerial battle within it.

What’s more interesting is also how the colonies, Side 7 included, are O'Neill cylinders. Proposed by physicist Gerard K. O'Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space, these massive cylinders steadily rotate to maintain artificial gravity. This is a concept that may one day be translated into reality.

Lastly, the sheer size of the colonies makes them perfect meteoric weapons too. More than once have captured colonies been “dumped” onto Earth. Each time, catastrophic aftermaths ensue.

16. Spaceball One (Spaceballs)

How could any discussion of the biggest spaceships in pop culture not include Spaceball One? One of the coolest starships to ever grace the big screen, this parody of the Executor-class Star Destroyer is so meaninglessly long, it took nearly two minutes for the movie to finish featuring its length. (In fandom, though, the ship is stated as 11 km long. Two-thirds the size of an Executor-class Star Destroyer)

Befitting its parodical nature, Spaceball One contains within it a shopping mall, a zoo, and a circus too. Add to that is its capability for “ludicrous speed,” the execution of which confers full honor to the ship’s “We Brake For Nobody” bumper sticker.

And as if all these aren’t enough, Spaceball One can even transform into a humanoid Mega Maid, in a way not too unlike the SDF-1 Macross from Robotech. In this form, the vessel is equipped with an incredible vacuum cleaner. This absurd but utterly hellish weapon is capable of sucking away the atmosphere of a planet.

17. The Lexx (Lexx)

It’s over two decades old as of today, but safe to say, Lexx remains one of the most experimental sci-fi TV series ever created. Everything from parody to sex comedy, to discussions of predestination, was incorporated as themes. Even the four seasons produced vividly differed in style; you just never know what to expect when watching.

Such a series expectedly came with a huge spaceship too, in the form of the 10 km long The Lexx, which rather resembles an insect because it is partly an insect.

Sentient, able to destroy planets, and quite capable of mating with other insect ships to have kids, there is frankly no other big spaceship on this list that’s quite alike The Lexx. Any that even comes near.

If any, The Lexx’s only “flaw” is its need to feed. If you’re its crew, you would need to constantly find planets for the buggy vessel to fill its belly with.

The sinister Tet. Huge and equipped with the ability to wipe out most of humanity.

The sinister Tet. Huge and equipped with the ability to wipe out most of humanity.

18. The Tet (Oblivion)

Depending on how you look at it, the shiny tetrahedral appearance of The Tet could either be exquisite or sinister. A mobile space station 30 miles wide per side, the Tet invaded Earth for its hydro-energy potential, following which it wiped out most of humanity.

Armed to the teeth, to the extent it could destroy the Moon, Oblivion also never made clear just who or what piloted The Tet. Was it a hive mind or an utterly malevolent A.I.? We were never told.

On another note, fans of older anime series might notice the visual similarity of The Tet to another extraterrestrial menace. Sosai Z from 1979’s Gatchaman Fighter also dwelled in an enigmatic, pyramid-like floating vessel. This wicked entity was similarly hell-bent on wiping out humanity.

19. The Wandering Earth (Movie and Book of Same Name)

Science fiction isn’t a genre international viewers typically associate with Chinese pop entertainment, and that is perhaps the reason why this 2019 interstellar flick went all the way with size. Based on Liu Cixin’s novel of the same name, the Wandering Earth is exactly that. Our Earth broke out of orbit and transformed into a galactic migrant through the use of strategically positioned fusion engines.

For purists, this probably disqualifies the entry since the Earth is not artificial or man-made. That said, don’t you agree that the audacity/absurdity of the Earth becoming an ark of sorts is enough of a reason for a mention?

Of note too, the concept of wandering planets is as not as unique or as outrageous as it seems. Astronomers have discovered free-floating, rogue planets in the Milky Way. The Transformers franchise and Marvel have also long favored this trope. In the form of Unicron and the dreaded Galactus. (These two, incidentally, are planet eaters)

20. Titans (EVE Online)

Most sci-fi pop entertainment seeks to impress by brandishing incredible dimensions. If not, they flash comparative visuals the likes of a cruiser absolutely dwarfed by another.

EVE Online, on the other hand, gives you an actual taste of what it’s like to build and deploy such behemoths. Titans in this MMORPG take weeks (in real-time) to build, on top of requiring an extensive list of skills that’d take even longer to acquire. In short, to acquire just one of these huge battleships require months of playing.

As for famous names and numbers, the Avatar-Class Titan of the Amarr Empire is 13774 m long, while the monstrous Erebus-Class Titan of the Gallente Federation is 14764 m. The Leviathan-Class Titan of the Caldari trumps both these with a whooping 18714 m length. Own any of these giants and you could fly your entire civilization to just about anywhere in the galaxy.