Alien: Covenant

Gateway Station and the Background Spaceships in Aliens

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PraetorianMember3378 XPJan-28-2018 6:22 PM

'When Ripley awakens from her long nightmare, she finds herself in a strange place. A Med-Tech nurse attends to her with “practiced cheeriness,” and Ripley gazes out the window to look upon “the curve of the Earth as seen from orbit, blue and serene.” The script notes that this “sprawling complex of modular habitats” in which Ripley finds herself is “collectively called Gateway Station.” This conglomeration of satellite units, each tethered to the other by steel beams, houses a hospital as well as apartments, and is where all the Earth-based scenes take place, including Ripley’s hearing with the Company and I.C.C., and is where she settles and works before Burke offers to reinstate her license.'

'In Cameron’s 1983 treatment, Gateway is instead called Earth Satellite Station Beta. The script notes that the station’s hospital is “technologically advanced even beyond Ripley’s time,” though it “still reeks of hospital oppressiveness.” Cameron eventually pared back on the idea of Ripley being technologically out of time in the final film; when he was queried on the lack of technological progress between Alien and Aliens, he explained that humanity had experienced long periods of technological stagnation before, and that perhaps the era in which the films take place is a future dystopic Dark Age. The 1983 treatment’s advanced atrium deck, replete with a landscape and a view of the station’s launchpads, is replaced in the 1985 script with the (comparatively) low-fi High Resolution Wall Screen.'

'Syd Mead made some initial drawings for Gateway, but the station as we see it was designed by Peter Lamont. The facility was a combination of matte painting (the left side, painted by Peter Melrose) and a model (the right side), which allegedly used the base and towers of the original Nostromo.'

'“I don’t recognise this place”: so says Ripley in the film, but in the first draft of the script (written in 1985 – not the 1983 treatment) she mentions it by name almost immediately, which tells the viewer that Gateway is an older structure. Between this first draft and the shooting script, Cameron changed his mind and had the satellite appear sometime after the loss of the Nostromo, leading to Ripley’s confusion. Perhaps this was done to make Ripley feel perturbed and alienated, and to easily convey the idea to the audience that the Alien-verse Earth had changed in Ripley’s absence, as well as their own.'

View of Earth and Gateway, from Ripley’s hospital room. Designed by Robert Skotak, and painted by Peter Melrose:

'Two small ships patrol Gateway. Often glanced over, they are onscreen for a mere moment, their details indiscernible in the murk of outer space. One of the mysterious craft, pictured below, is called the Gateway Maintenance Shuttle on the laserdisc set (some assume it’s a security patrol ship… and they may be right, considering it’s armed.) The design for the Maintenance Shuttle has been attributed to Robert Skotak, and it was built by modelmaker Faisal Karim.'

Gateway’s Maintenance Shuttle:

The other Gateway ship, photographed at the studio. Perhaps a shunned design from Terrahawks:

'For the second, harder-to-spot ship (if you can spot it) model worker Steven Begg alluded to it being an unused ship from a Gerry Anderson show, Terrahawks. When asked about the design of a radio-telescope featured in the aforementioned show, Begg answered: “That was designed by Ian Scoones, who was a really nice guy, but just not into science-fiction action stuff. He also designed a lot of abstract shapes for Zelda’s fleet which Gerry rejected before we settled on the angular geometric type spaceships. One of which ended up as a background spaceship in Aliens!”'

'Considering that none of Aliens’ other ships (the Narcissus, Sulaco, dropship) can be described as a ‘background spaceship’, this leaves us to assume that Begg is referring to this second ‘Gateway Patrol’ vehicle, (another briefly seen ship belongs to the scavengers who find the Narcissus, and it cannot be described as an ‘angular geometric type’. Instead, it’s more akin to a space station, from what we see.)'

Terrahawks ship that appeared briefly in the Gateway scene:

'Once Ripley leaves Gateway for LV-426, the station is not brought up again. It is mentioned several times in William Gibson’s Alien III script, but the characters of that film find themselves in a counterpart station called Anchorpoint.'

'Gateway’s Maintenance Ship eventually found itself within the Sci-fi Museum in Seattle (from where the modern day pictures of it originate), whilst the ‘Terrahawks’ shuttle was auctioned online and sold.'

Gateway Maintenance shuttle on display at the Seattle Science Museum:

Gateway ‘Terrahawks’ shuttle, photograph taken from prop’s auction:


7 Responses to Gateway Station and the Background Spaceships in Aliens


PraetorianMember3378 XPJan-28-2018 6:32 PM

Stills from Aliens - Gateway Station and the three background spaceships:


PraetorianModerator2414 XPJan-29-2018 12:29 AM

Wow! Great job and investigation Ati! I honestly never took much notice in those ships, but even they have a wealth of history and lore.

I like Gateway Station it always seemed so decrepit and rustic, much like the Nostromo. Used and non-pristine. 

I'll feature this for awhile :) 


PraetorianMember3422 XPJan-29-2018 6:42 AM

This is a great piece of work and it couldn't have had better timing. Thank you Ati. The background and history of Gateway Station in your article above have real utility for me. Below, your image is an enhanced to bring out the details of the ships cited.


PraetorianMember3378 XPJan-29-2018 3:25 PM

IRaptus - Thank you!

(The article was not created by me, the segments are taken from the original work!)

The same here. I was surprised to see that there are THREE spaceships in that short scene showing the Gateway Station. And all of them are moving...


PraetorianMember3378 XPJan-29-2018 3:33 PM

Ingeniero - Thanks and I'm glad that it is useful for you.


DeaconMember10416 XPJan-29-2018 4:11 PM

Thanks for the investigation ATI, i find the bit about the Terrahawks ships very interesting ;)

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


PraetorianMember3378 XPJan-29-2018 4:25 PM

BigDave - My pleasure. Anderson's UFO and Space 1999 are my favs!

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Alien: Covenant is a sequel to 2012's Prometheus as well as a prequel to 1979's ALIEN. Alien fans looking to know more about Alien: Covenant should check back often. is an information resource for film enthusiasts looking to learn more about the upcoming blockbuster Alien: Covenant. Providing the latest official and accurate information on Alien: Covenant, this website contains links to every set video, viral video, commercial, trailer, poster, movie still and screenshot available. This site is an extension of the Alien & Predator Fandom on Scified - a central hub for fans of Alien and Prometheus looking to stay up-to-date on the latest news. Images used are property of their respective owners. Alien: Covenant, Prometheus and its associated names, logos and images are property of 20th Century Fox and are in no way owned by Scified and its related entities. This is a fan-created website for the purpose of informing and exciting fans for Alien: Covenant's release. If you have any questions about this site, its content or the Scified Network in general, feel free to contact Scified directly.

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