Red Dwarf spacecraft
The British television comedy Red Dwarf prominently features many different spaceships. The three principal ships are the Red Dwarf ship itself, as well as its two main types of shuttlecraft, known as Blue Midget and Starbug. Several other ships have appeared for one or two episodes only but are nonetheless important to Red Dwarf continuity. Several spaceships have been seen only in one episode, and a few ships have also been mentioned but not seen.
- 1 Main ships
- 2 Guest ships
- 3 Ships mentioned by name
- 4 References
The eponymous spaceship Red Dwarf is an enormous mining vessel owned by the Jupiter Mining Corporation and commanded by Captain Frank Hollister. It is 6 miles (10 km) long, 4 miles (6.5 km) tall, and 3 miles (5 km) wide. The jagged shape and dull red colour of the vessel has led to the vessel being described as a "gigantic red trash can". All of Red Dwarf's systems are controlled by the computer Holly.
A small asteroid is embedded in Red Dwarf's underbelly. Upon the reconstruction of Red Dwarf in Series VIII, there were two asteroids. The asteroids are being mined, rather than accidental strikes resulting in fusion with the ship's structure.
The "scoop" on the front of the ship sucks hydrogen from the currents in space and converts it into fuel like a Bussard ramjet and can, theoretically, keep going forever. It has so far been travelling for roughly 3,000,000 years. The ship has enough food and drink to last 30,000 years, but they have run out of Shake n' Vac, and there is only one After Eight mint left.
Red Dwarf has a large complement of shuttles, including Starbugs and Blue Midgets. Another shuttle type only mentioned in the novels but never seen or heard on the television series is White Giant. The first episode, The End, mentions that Red Dwarf has botanical gardens, when third-class technician Dave Lister and second-class technician Arnold Rimmer are sent off to repair a "faulty power circuit" there.
The crew size was repeatedly stated in Series I to be 169, but the number grew with time: in the Series IV episode Justice it was said to have been 1,169 (although this retcon was implicitly reversed by Lister giving his crew number as 000169 in The Inquisitor), this figure was the number of people killed in the explosion, and could be explained by having 169 crew members and 1,000 civilians and 1 cat on board, this would be plausible as we know there are numerous hotels and civilian areas due to the episode "Stasis Leak". In the books the figure is given as 11,169. In the programme, however, these continuity errors are more or less ignored. In Series VIII, we learn that there are 400 people in a classified prison on the secret Floor 13.
Red Dwarf itself was the main setting for the first five series of the programme, but was apparently lost for 200 years before Psirens of Series Six. It was later discovered that a collective of rogue nanobots which formed the mechanoid Kryten's auto-repair system dismantled Red Dwarf and created their own nano-version of the ship. The crew chased this nano-version of the ship in Starbug 1 and eventually convinced the nanobots to rebuild the ship.
Unbeknownst to the crew, Holly created a new set of nanobots to resurrect the dead crew as well, causing some disorientation among the formerly dead denizens of the reconstructed Red Dwarf. The rebuilt ship was based on the original specifications, before the Jupiter Mining Corporation made cutbacks, meaning it was even larger than the Red Dwarf of the first five series, with a quark-level matter/anti-matter generator and a karaoke bar on level 6 (this was classified information that was repeated to a crew member by the coffee machine on G-deck). This version of the ship was also retconned into the remastered editions of series 1-3, which replaced the original model shots with new CGI equivalents.
The ultimate fate of the ship is unknown as the cliffhanger ending of Series VIII was never resolved (see episode Only the Good...). We witness the ship moving towards destruction, this time by a corrosive microbe eating away at the vessel. Frank Hollister and the flight officers escape in the fleet of Starbugs and Blue Midgets. We last see Lister, the Cat, Kryten, and Kochanski escaping through a portal into a mirror universe and Arnold Rimmer left accidentally alone on board a disintegrating Red Dwarf.
From Red Dwarf: Back to Earth (Series IX) onwards, the ship is, however, fully functional once again, in a shortened CGI vessel that approximates the dimensions of the original series 1-5 version. Exactly how the characters returned, and how the ship was saved from destruction, is not explained.
In Red Dwarf X, the ship was once again portrayed by a physical model, although the original from series 1-5 had since been lost. It was lost when it fell off a high shelf and broke. Consequently, the series 8 shooting model was modified to the proportions of the original vessel by cutting out a large section of the hull and joining the two ends. As a result, while the vessel is comparable to its original design in terms of overall shape, it notably features the engine layout and 'scoop' design of the series 8 ship.
Notable areas of the ship over the past series include:
- Rimmer and Lister's original sleeping quarters — The main setting for the first two series. A grey room with bunk beds built into the wall, a table, two lockers, a sink with a mirror that also acts as a computer screen and a voice activated toilet. It made a reappearance in the first episode of Series VIII. This room was used as the background for the Red Dwarf: The Bodysnatcher Collection DVD cover.
- Rimmer and Lister's second sleeping quarters — In Series III, they relocated to a room in the unused Officer's Block; substantially larger, with a cream colour scheme and en suite shower as well as classier versions of much of the apparatus from their original quarters. This room was used as the background for the Red Dwarf Series IV DVD cover.
- Rimmer and Lister's third sleeping quarters — In the 2009 special "Back to Earth" (Series IX), the crew had once again moved to a new sleeping area. This new room is white and features a console in the centre of the room that is reminiscent of the TARDIS console seen in Doctor Who. This room also features a large window that takes up one entire wall.
- Rimmer and Lister's fourth sleeping quarters - In Series X, Rimmer and Lister relocate again to a large sleeping quarters, this time with a dark red and black colour scheme. It has many of the same features as previous quarters, but also includes a red and black leather sofa and a TV mounted to the ceiling.
- Level 147 appears to have been the nerve centre of the vessel. It contained the Central Drive Room, the navigational control centre of the ship, where Kristine Kochanski used to work as well as the other top officers. The Central Drive Room also contains the Navicomp, the ship's navigational computer, and several computer monitors which Holly used to project his/her image and communicate with the crew. The Captain Frank Hollister's office was also on Floor 147, next to the Central Drive Room. The stasis booth in which Dave Lister was frozen in suspended animation for three million years was also on Level 147.
- Level 592 contains the Hologram projection suite. In Thanks for the Memory, Lister goes here to give Rimmer eight months worth of his memories. In the episode Queeg, a meteor strikes the ship on Level 592, damaging the Hologram suite which results in some erratic behavior by Rimmer until the damage is corrected by Lister.
- The Science Room — This became the crew's main area of conducting technical business such as mind swaps and consultations with Holly, the ship's computer, in Series III–V. Apparently, the vessel could be navigated from the Science Room as well as the Drive Room.
- The cargo bay — The area of the ship where the fleets of Starbugs and Blue Midgets were stored and from where these ships launched and landed.
- White Corridor 159 — The initial site of the accident that wiped out the crew. It is where Lister collapses in the episode Confidence and Paranoia. There is another Stasis booth visible during this scene on Level 159.
- The CopaCabana Cocktail Bar — where Lister and his drinking buddies Petersen, Chen, and Selby often met to drink. Seen in various episodes of Series I.
- Parrot's Bar — A wine bar on G Deck, apparently named purely for a "Casablanca" gag. ("We'll always have Parrot's.") This area was seen in the episode Camille.
- The Tank — A two-hundred cell prison on the top-secret Floor Thirteen of Red Dwarf, which held in custody 400 hardened criminals on their way to a penal colony on Adelphi 12. However, when the nanobots rebuilt Red Dwarf (at the beginning of Series VIII), they do so to original JMC plans, also rebuilding The Tank in the process and resurrecting the inmates of the prison too. The Tank is the main setting for Series VIII as the regular cast are imprisoned there. The Tank was used as the background for the cover of the Red Dwarf Series VIII DVD.
Blue Midget is a type of shuttle which Red Dwarf carries. Its fuselage resembles that of a Chinook helicopter, although it also has features of a truck or tank (as it features caterpillar tracks and a bumper sticker that reads "My Other Space Ship is a Red Dwarf"), and its cockpit can hold a maximum of four people. Blue Midget was the only shuttlecraft used for Series II, and it was used as the background for the Red Dwarf Series II DVD cover.
By Series III, and the introduction of Kryten as a main character, a bigger shuttle was needed and Blue Midget faded into the background, only featuring in two episodes of Series III and not showing up at all again until Series VIII.
For Red Dwarf Remastered, Blue Midget was completely redesigned to resemble a bubble car with retractable legs used for taking off and walking (replacing the caterpillar tracks). The new design was also used for Blue Midget's reappearance in Series VIII, where the ship gained its third, substantially larger cockpit more akin to the Series VI–VII Starbug cockpit; the redesign was ascribed to the nanobots and their reconstruction of Red Dwarf and the Blue Midgets.
Blue Midget also features in the first two Red Dwarf novels. In the second novel, after a polymorph finds its way aboard the shuttlecraft, the craft is made to self-destruct at the insistence of Lister.
The Jupiter Mining Corporation transport vehicle Starbug (full name Starbug I) is a relatively small shuttlecraft, green in colour. It has three bulbous sections, the cockpit, midsection and engine rooms, somewhat resembling a bug from the exterior. Starbug replaced Blue Midget as the crew's primary choice of shuttle in Series III and became the show's primary vehicle throughout Series VI and VII.
The original Red Dwarf came equipped with at least four Starbug vessels, as Starbugs are abandoned in "Backwards" and "Terrorform" as a result of crashes by Rimmer and Kryten, with Lister and Cat retrieving the two in another Starbug both times, and in "Bodyswap" after Rimmer (using Lister's body) crashes it and is retrieved by the others in Blue Midget. The reconstructed Red Dwarf of the Series VIII "Back in the Red" episode contained an entire fleet of Starbugs and Blue Midgets, but the nanobots reconstructed Red Dwarf to its original design specifications.
Starbug's introduction was prompted by the introduction of Kryten as a main character, which required a new, bigger shuttle to hold the crew. The original concept of Starbug was named White Midget and was going to be white. With the second episode seeing Starbug crashing into a snow-covered planet the design team decided to recolour the ship green to increase contrast and renamed it Green Midget, before realising its similarity to a bug and renaming it once more as Starbug. Starbug is shown to have an internal cloaking device installed in the series III episode 'Backwards', but as this feature has been rarely seen in the series it is not known if it is a standard feature of the craft or a custom modification. Starbug was used as the background for the Red Dwarf Series III DVD cover.
Series VI takes place a full two centuries after the final episodes of Series V. The internal layout of Starbug differs from that of the vessel's appearances in previous episodes. The new design featured four main areas: the cockpit in the front section, the midsection and galley on the middle section bottom deck, the observation room (which doubled as quarters and medibay) on the middle section top deck, and the engine room, which was over all three decks of the rear section. In addition, Starbug was finally armed with laser cannon in the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" by rogue simulants looking for a challenge.
For Series VII, Starbug was redesigned again, partially rendered in CGI, and the sets were made substantially larger. The complex explanation on this occasion for the redesign was due to a time paradox caused by the battle with their future selves at the finale of the previous series (see episodes "Out of Time" and "Tikka to Ride"). Kryten explains that "dimensional anomalies" caused by this time paradox had expanded the engineering section, the cargo bay section and the maintenance ducts by over 212%. Apparently parts of the upgraded future version of Starbug from the timeline they erased also came to co-exist with the present Starbug.
The new model had a smaller cockpit window (as a result of the rest of the craft being larger) and newly backward-angled legs, and its larger size allowed for many extra rooms, including separate quarters, a medibay and a re-designed artificial reality suite. This version of Starbug would finally be destroyed when the ship crashed and exploded in the newly-rebuilt Red Dwarf at the beginning of Series VIII.
In the Red Dwarf novels, Starbug also crashes onto an ice world: a rogue planet which, after being captured in a star's orbit and having its ice melted, turns out to be the Earth itself, which was ripped from its orbit after being officially renamed "Garbage World" and turned into the solar system's rubbish tip. Following the thawing of the ice, Starbug is all but destroyed by extremely concentrated acid rain. However, Starbug is back and functional in both the following novels (again, possibly a second Starbug vessel).
Carbug is featured in Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. Designed by Mark Harris, it is a customised Smart Fortwo that is coated in green vinyl in the same green as the original Starbug; it also has various added engines and wings to make it look like the Bug. Chris Barrie (doing his best Jeremy Clarkson impersonation) made a spoof Top Gear style feature about Carbug for the official Dave website. In the episode, the Dwarfers find themselves in a hallucination caused by a despair squid. In this delusional state, they borrow Carbug from Swallow, a maker of movie props, in order to track down their creator after discovering that they are in fact fictional characters who have somehow escaped from a TV show called Red Dwarf. It was developed by the Red Dwarf fan club president and stolen by Swallow at the end of series IX.
White Midget was going to be the second type of shuttle held aboard Red Dwarf in addition to Blue Midget - the introduction of the character Kryten necessitated the introduction of a larger shuttle. White Midget went through at least one redesign in the concept stage, which changed it to the shape of three spheres like the segments of a bug. It was later renamed Green Midget and later still Starbug. The Red Dwarf Companion includes a sketch of an unused shuttlecraft design that is described as being the design for White Midget. This also features an early Starbug design labelled "Green Midget".
However, a ship called "White Midget" is mentioned in the Series III episode "Bodyswap" as a ship that Lister (in Rimmer's Body) was going to use. However, after Cat volunteered to use it, they left Red Dwarf with Blue Midget. According to the book in Series 3, White Midget did not exist, only Blue Midget did.
A ship named White Midget would finally appear on-screen in Series VII episode "Ouroboros", in a flashback to Kochanski's alternate universe pre-accident. It is seen approaching Red Dwarf and appears to be a transport/passenger/personnel specialised vehicle as it delivers Dave Lister back to Red Dwarf from his shore leave on Mimas before the accident that wiped out the crew of Red Dwarf. White Midget may however be an alternate universe version to Blue Midget in Kochanski's dimension. The White Midget model used for "Ouroboros" was actually a converted Blue Midget model, last used in Series III. Mike Tucker and freelancer Alan Brennan refurbished the original model, adding a nose-cone, wings and back engines and repainted it.
An unnamed, white ship would appear as the Canaries' primary transport in Series VIII.
White Giant is a shuttlecraft on Red Dwarf that only features in the Red Dwarf novels and is never mentioned in the television series. It's never explained what the craft looks like.
In the second Red Dwarf novel, Rimmer and Cat use White Giant to find Lister on Garbage World. Given that Starbug was destroyed by acid rain, and the destruction of Blue Midget, White Giant was left as the only remaining shuttlecraft for Red Dwarf. However, in the two sequel novels Starbug has been rebuilt and White Giant never appears.
White Giant may be the white ship which appears in Series VIII as the shuttle used by 'The Canaries', the so-called suicide squad who attempt dangerous missions.
The wreck of the Nova 5 was discovered in the series II episode Kryten, and is in fact the first spacecraft seen in the show apart from Red Dwarf itself. The Nova 5 crashed into an asteroid an unspecified amount of time prior to the episode. All of the crew were killed in the crash except for three women who died an unknown time later. The hyperactive series 4000 service mechanoid Kryten was still attending to his long-dead masters (now skeletons) when encountered by the members of Red Dwarf. Nova 5 is never seen after that episode, but is mentioned several times afterwards and recalled by Kryten with much fondness.
In the series VII episode Ouroboros, it was revealed that Kryten was responsible for the accident that killed the ship's crew. A reason has not been given in the series, but the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers explains that the crash was caused by Kryten cleaning the sensitive computer terminals with soapy water.
In the novel, Nova 5 is an American vessel owned by The Coca-Cola Company which was sent on a mission to induce the supernova of 128 supergiant stars in order to create a five-week-long message in the sky visible even in daylight, reading "COKE ADDS LIFE!" After the Red Dwarf crew finds the wreck it is brought aboard and repaired in order to utilise its Duality Jump engine, which could get the crew back to Earth within three months. However, although the ship is successfully repaired, circumstances prevent them from ever going through with it.
The DNA Ship
All that is known of its origins (series IV episode DNA) is that it was from a later period of Earth's history and crewed by a human — who died after the DNA-transforming machine on board caused him to grow three heads. This was an unnamed vessel of extremely advanced construction — so much so that Rimmer assumed it belonged to aliens intent on returning Glenn Miller. Its most notable feature, however, was the advanced machine for the transmogrification of human DNA. This machine was so advanced it could turn, say, a human being into a chicken and back again without lasting effects. It could also turn a mechanoid into a human being, if there were even the slightest organic material used in the mechanoid's construction. Kryten accidentally used the DNA machine to become human for a time.
Wildfire is Ace Rimmer's personal ship. Wildfire is a one-man craft with only a cockpit, and is run by a computer who has a crush on Ace Rimmer. It first appeared in the series IV episode Dimension Jump, which also introduced Ace Rimmer. Its second appearance was in the series VII episode Stoke Me a Clipper, where it was slightly redesigned, being small enough to fit inside Starbug's hangar. Wildfire was created in Ace Rimmer's own dimension by his team on Mimas, including "Spanners" Lister, and is capable of crossing the barrier between alternate dimensions. Ace Rimmer agreed to test-fly it even though it was a one-way ticket as there was no way of returning to his own dimension.
Wildfire is never named in the TV series: it is only named in the Red Dwarf novel Backwards, where it was built on Europa rather than Mimas. In that novel (the novels had different stories to the TV series) Wildfire is taken by a teenage Lister and Cat after Ace, Kryten and Rimmer die, so they can escape because Starbug is on an unstoppable collision course towards a planet.
The Enlightenment is a hologramatic ship with no mass or volume and composed entirely of tachyons, or super-light particles, and which has the ability to travel many multiples the speed of light and even create wormholes to travel instantaneously from one point in space to the other. The Enlightenment carries a hologrammatical crew of 2,000 – no more holograms can be projected or it would be too much of a drain of the system. All of the crew are all top of their field; some are geniuses and most of them have an IQ over 200. They have abandoned all concept of relationships and family, and ship regulations say that each crew member must participate in sexual congress at least twice daily, for exercise and to relieve frustration. Since holograms can touch one another (revealed in Parallel Universe) and as the ship is also a hologram, holograms have a physical presence on board, being able to eat, drink, touch, feel and taste anything on the ship.
Although described as "a computer generated ship", the ship used in this episode is in fact a model made of transparent plastic.
Its three-year mission was to explore deep space and locate potential S3 (or Earth-like) planets that were covered by ocean, introduce primitive life-forms to these extraterrestrial environments and finally speed up the evolutionary process. On one ocean planet the Esperanto succeeded in causing five million years' worth of aquatic evolution in just three solar years. The SSS Esperanto crashed onto the ocean floor when it was attacked by one of the creatures she had helped create: a gigantic squid-like creature whose ink had hallucinatory and despair-inducing properties. The ink caused all the crew of the Esperanto, and even a stray fish, to have hallucinations which made them despair and commit suicide. The fish committed suicide by voluntarily closing its own gills.
This space station appears in the series VI episode, Legion. The station was created by four of "the most brilliant minds of the 23rd century". Although apparently abandoned, it is home to a "gestalt entity" called Legion, made up of the combined consciousness of any beings who are on board the station.
The Simulant Battle Cruiser
This unnamed vessel appears in two episodes of series VI: Gunmen of the Apocalypse and Rimmerworld. It is crewed by Rogue Simulants who roam deep space, looking for other vessels to hunt or compete with in battle for the purposes of sport, and occasionally to capture humans to torture for their sadistic pleasure. It contains a number of components looted from other vessels, including an escape pod taken from a seeding ship. It also incorporated a great deal of advanced technology (most notably a teleporter) and a large store of food in order to sustain the Simulants' torture victims.
The Simulant ship is heavily armed with laser cannons, but it is apparently not very well armoured, however, as a few laser blasts from Starbug were enough to blow the Simulant ship into two halves. The ship's first design was in the shape of a human skull. This was changed to a goat skull and finally, to make it fit in with the overall Western theme of Gunmen of the Apocalypse, to a cow skull.
The Gemini 12 appears in the series VI episode Out of Time, and the series VII episode Tikka to Ride. It is a mysterious spaceship capable of time travel and originating from the 28th century. Her ill-fated maiden voyage was a covert reconnaissance mission to the 20th century, during which the unfortunate crew inadvertently contracted a 20th-century influenza virus and died. Before their deaths, the crew sent the ship into deep space operating on autopilot. After falling into orbit around a gas giant, the Gemini 12 activated its unusual security system — a giant enveloping gas cloud which contained a "reality minefield". This consisted of temporary bubbles of "unreality" which would confuse and disorientate any trespassers. In Out of Time Starbug goes through the unreality bubbles, with the crew in cryogenic sleep so they wouldn't be affected by the unreality bubbles. When they found the Gemini 12 they took the Time Drive and installed it on Starbug. Both episodes revolve around the use of the Time Drive, but it causes so many problems that the crew decide never to use it again.
The Gemini 12 has had four different appearances, none of which are compatible. For Out of Time, the production team weren't able to build a new model and instead used stock footage from the episode Justice. For the next episode, Tikka to Ride, there was a failed attempt to build an all-new CGI design before it was decided to use another ship that would appear later in the same series, the SS Centauri. Finally, for "Tikka to Ride Remastered" on the Red Dwarf series VII DVD, an entirely new design was made using CGI. Although not mentioned, the red flash of light and sound effect of the Time Drive is used in the background of the next episode (Ouroboros) when Lister places the child of himself and Kochanski under the pool table where Lister was originally "found" as an orphan.
The SS Centauri appears in the series VII episode Beyond a Joke. It is a derelict spaceship which the crew board in order to locate some spare mechanoid heads. However, the Centauri has been commandeered by a Rogue Simulant captain. Kryten meets another an identical mechanoid named Able who is a servant to the Simulant. The pair escape to Starbug, but the Centauri attacks them. The crew are saved by Able, who sacrifices his life for them by attacking the Centauri with pent-up emotions, enticing the simulant to destroy himself and his ship in a fit of depression.
This was a plague ship (series VII episode Epideme) found in a space glacier containing the Epideme virus that infected Lister, nearly killing him. It crashed because of an engine overload. It is very large.
The SS Silverberg was seen is the series VIII episode, Cassandra. It was aboard the Silverberg that the Canaries found Cassandra, a computer who can predict the future with 100% accuracy. It was originally believed that the ship crashed and something devoured the crew, but in fact the Silverberg had been programmed to crash on auto-pilot so as to get rid of Cassandra.
SS Manny Celeste
The SS Manny Celeste appears in the series VIII episode, Pete: Part 1. Kryten, Kochanski and The Cat are sent on a Canary mission to the SS Manny Celeste to search for a missing Canary battalion. While aboard the Manny Celeste they find a group of Canaries, apparently frozen in place, with one of the men holding a "time wand" in his hand. The time wand was a device that digitised time and could release it to manipulate timefields around people or objects.
The SS Trojan is a derelict "Quantum Twister" ship discovered by the crew in the series X episode Trojan. It is driven by a quantum rod, a device which tunnels through spacetime by attracting together related matter which emerged from the Big Bang.
Ships mentioned by name
SS Scott Fitzgerald
The SS Augustus is a ship Kryten served on before the Nova 5. The crew all died of old age, suggesting it may have been on a long-term voyage. He mentioned it during the series VII episode Duct Soup when the crew roamed around Starbug's vents. He mentioned it to Lister along with the Nova 5 as ships where the crew "abandoned" him.
The SS Einstein is mentioned in the series VIII episode, Back in the Red: Part 3. It a derelict spaceship which Kryten suggests the crew should head towards when he discovers that they are frighteningly low on fabric softener.
The SS Hermes is mentioned in Series VIII, Only the Good.... The spaceship was reduced to a skeletal carcass after a highly corrosive and chameleonic microbe got loose on board and ate away at the very ship itself, killing the crew in the process. Because of this little is known about the Hermes, or the nature of the ship-devouring virus it fell victim to (although it is stated that the virus was synthetic). The deadly microbe then escaped on a pod from the wrecked vessel, and was unknowingly taken aboard Red Dwarf
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