Spaceflight Influences from Film - Aliens (1986)

23 Apr 2019

The movie Aliens, directed by James Cameron and released in 1986, Is one of the most influential science-fiction films of all time. Its impact can be seen in many other works of science-fiction that have come after, including video games, movies, and beyond. Furthermore, some of the ideas that make up this movie have already become realized in human spaceflight, and those that haven’t will continue to influence how human spaceflight develops in the future. Aliens presents many ideas that influence spaceflight such as a commercial space industry, colonization and terraforming, the assistance of artificial intelligence, and a military presence in space.

Aliens presents the idea of commercial space industries taking over outer space operations in the future. The movie features the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which plays a prominent role in the Aliens universe. This is a large corporation that does deep space research, provides transportation services, manufactures spaceships and other technologies, conducts extrasolar colonization, and also performs terraforming operations. The majority of the technologies used by the characters in the movie are a product of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. This movie showed us that companies could successfully expand out into space and around 20 years after Aliens was made, entrepreneurs began creating the commercialized space industry to compete with the government systems that had a monopoly on space flight. This movie suggests that a commercialized space industry could take over the vast majority of space operations; although, while Aliens presents the idea of a single corporation monopolizing space, it is much more likely that we will have many large companies involved in the space industry and competing with each other well into the future because we already have many successful companies competing with each other today such as Boeing, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Northrop Grumman to name a few.

In Aliens, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation built a space colony and terraforming facility on the fictional planet LV-426, where most of the movie takes place. This idea of establishing a colony on another world and conducting terraforming operations to make living there more comfortable has not become a reality yet, but it will be in the future, and it will start with the colonization of Mars. In the movie, the colony relies on a large nuclear reactor to power its facilities; however, when we start build facilities beyond Earth, we will be utilizing renewable energy technologies like solar panels.

The crew in this movie is accompanied by a highly advanced humanoid robot crew member. The movie Alien, which precedes Aliens, also featured an intelligent computer mainframe that operated the spaceship. Today, intelligent computer systems are essential for operating spacecraft because of how incredibly complex they are, and the number of embedded computer systems that make up spacecraft will continue to grow. Aliens shows us that astronaut crews may one day be accompanied by synthetic crew members that they can interact with while operating in space, which will be achieved by the continued advancement in robotics and computing technologies.

Furthermore, Aliens features the United States Colonial Marines, which is a fictional military branch that operates beyond Earth. The idea of having a military presence in space played a large role in this movie and has recently made its way into real life space flight when it was brought up by the president of the United States, who wants to create a new branch of the military called the Space Force.

When Aliens premiered in 1986, it showcased many ideas about what the future of human space flight could look like. The most prominent of these ideas include a commercial space industry, colonization and terraforming, the assistance of artificial intelligence, and a military presence in space. Some of these ideas have already begun to make their way into real life space flight and others may soon be on their way. Aliens is one of the most influential movies of all time and its influence will persist well into the future.


Aliens directed by James Cameron and released in 1986