Monday, July 18, 2016

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Shuttles

A shuttle is a form of transport that moves regularly between two stops or destinations. In cult-TV history, there have been some incredible shuttles over the year.

Although Mr. Sulu (George Takei) sure could have used a shuttle in “The Enemy Within,” on Star Trek (1966-1969), the series nonetheless introduced a great shuttle design in “The Galileo 7.” The craft, with forward windows, and lower warp nacelles, is a bit boxy by today’s standards, but still quite lovely.  This shuttle plays an important role in such episodes as “Metamorphosis,” “The Way to Eden” and “Let that Be Your Last Battlefield.”

The Animated Series (1973) added an “aqua” or under-water shuttle to the Enterprise’s fleet. 

Later, The Next Generation (1987 – 1994) introduced a new breed of shuttlecraft, and that series featured at least three different types of shuttle, including one in “Coming of Age,” one in “Time Squared” and one in “Parallels.’

On Deep Space Nine (1993 – 1999), a kind of deluxe, larger shuttle -- a runabout -- was introduced.  

On Voyager (1995 – 2001), a customized shuttle, the Delta Flyer, played an important role in several episodes.  And in the prequel Star Trek series, Enterprise (2001 – 2005), a shuttle pod is featured.

Space: 1999 (1975-1977), features one of the great shuttles of all time: the modular Eagle Transporter. This multi-purpose shuttle can feature different attachments like boosters and shuttle pods, and is one of the most versatile of all spacecraft in the sci-fi TV canon.

Space Academy’s (1977) Seeker shuttlecraft is not far behind. This cozy, van-like spaceship features a forward cockpit, a rear engine compartment, and an area for passengers.  It too features different attachments, including robot arms.

Battlestar Galactica (1979-1980) features a very boxy, utilitarian and gray shuttlecraft.  This shuttle has powerful rear-mounted engines, and a passenger section on the dorsal, front compartment, with many windows for looking out at the universe.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981) re-uses the Galactica shuttle as a Searcher shuttle in the second season two-part episode, “Journey to Oasis.”  Later episodes replace this gray shuttle with a redress of Buck’s (Gil Gerard) Ranger 3, in episodes such as “The Crystals” and “The Satyr.”  This Searcher shuttle very much resembles a NASA space shuttle, like Columbia, but without the rear dorsal fin.

Later series, such as SGU (2010-2011) continue to feature shuttles in an important capacity. The Destiny – an ancient ship of alien origin – carries two shuttle craft for ferrying to planet surfaces and back. 


  1. John very enjoyable thoughts on shuttles. I have always had a love for science-fiction production designs. These shuttles are some of the reasons that I purchased both Starlog Spaceships volume one and two back in the late '70s as a boy.


  2. Hey, you missed the Raptor from the 2004 Battlestar Galactica!