I have been a fan of science fiction for more than fifteen years, since my parents introduced me to Star Wars some time in 1991. Since then, I’ve become obsessed to varying degrees with shows including Star Trek, Babylon 5, Farscape, Andromeda, and others. The infinite realm of possibilities presented through these stories has great appeal to me — but I’ve loved different shows for different reasons. I love Star Trek for its optimistic tone and its incredibly detailed universe. Farscape caught my eye because of its refreshing, casual tone and the writers’ willingness to take risks in order to produce an exciting, entertaining series. And Babylon 5 stole my heart with its stirring, inspiring, all-encompassing series arc about the conflict between Order and Chaos.
Generally, I don’t buy into most of the incessant crossover debates that frequently rage on certain sci-fi bulletin boards. Rather than waste time proving that the Imperial Star Destroyer can blast Kirk’s Enterprise into molten slag, I prefer to enjoy each story based on the merits of its own setting and plot. That’s not to say that I haven’t occasionally speculated about the results of cross-series encounters — I’d love to see Babylon 5’s Shadows go head-to-head with a Borg Cube someday. (Imagine the spectacular effects for that encounter!) But I remember that each series is based around its own quasi-scientific principles. Although an antimatter warp core may be the most powerful reactor in Star Trek, there’s no telling how that might compare to the Minbari’s quantum singularity core or a Leviathan’s hetch drive. Since the entire technological background is fictional anyway, the writers can simply make up any solution that they wish for the sake of the plot.
Although I’m not that interested in the technological comparisons between series, I’ve occasionally wondered about how a certain starship would compare in size to those of another series. In Farscape’s premiere episode, John Crichton comments upon first seeing Moya, the central ship of the series, “That’s big.... really big.” The question is, just how big is “big”? So I started to gather a list of the sizes of various science fiction ships. Star Trek and Babylon 5 were easy, because those are some of the best-documented as far as the sizes of (most) of the ships are concerned. (And of course, I live on those kind of size discussions at message boards like the Flare Sci-Fi Forums. Just don’t ask anyone how long the Defiant is... trust me.)
Anyway, here’s the result of my research. I don’t claim that it’s entirely accurate, because I’m not entirely familiar with all of the series involved. I’ve documented as many of the size references (with links if possible) below. You can view the full-size image in your browser as a PNG file.
See also: Star Trek starship size comparison charts
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you send me a poster-sized version of your chart?
- If such a thing existed, I would have published it already. Consider that the vast majority of the images that I’ve used were drawn solely for viewing on a computer screen; they’re very low-resolution and would be incredibly grainy if printed for a poster. It’s simply not possible to make a poster-sized chart.
- Why doesn’t your chart include [insert your favorite ship] from [insert your favorite series]?
- Most likely an omission is either because it’s not a sci-fi series that I watched regularly, or else I could not find any images appropriate for my chart. In either case, the only way I could consider your request is if you can point me to a decent-quality side view image of the ship that you’d like me to add. I don’t have time to do research for every little wish list, especially for shows I’m not familiar with.
- You got the wrong size for [insert your favorite ship]!
- More likely I’ve used a size that you don’t agree with. There’s lots of conflicting information for many different ships out there. As a result, I’ve often had to choose the measurement that I considered more appropriate. However, I’m certainly willing to consider alternative size figures, if you can send me some evidence.
- But what about the Death Star? That’s too obvious to miss!
- First, the Death Star is so friggin’ huge that it doesn’t fit on even the largest chart I’ve made. And that’s even for the low-ball estimate of the size, which brings me to my second point: No one can agree just how big the Death Stars actually were, so there’s no point in doing their sizes.
- Star Trek — All starship sizes obtained from Ex Astris Scientia, as stated in official references or calculated by Bernd Schneider.
- Babylon 5 — Earth and Interstellar Alliance ship sizes obtained from the official size comparison charts used by Netter Digital, the visual effects company for the series’ fourth and fifth seasons (released by Tim Earls). Alien ship sizes obtained from The Babylon 5 Technical Manual.
- Star Wars — All starship sizes obtained from the official Star Wars website and TheForce.net.
- Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda — Official size of the Andromeda Ascendant obtained from the All Systems University Library.
- Battlestar Galactica (1978) — Sizes uncertain, calculated based on length of filming miniatures and approximate scale. (Source: The Battlestar Galactica Tech Manual, April 2003)
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) — Most sizes determined based on the official lengths for Galactica and Pegasus.
- Farscape — Sizes derived from comparison images included as extra features on the Farscape: The PeaceKeeper Wars DVD.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey — Discovery size calculated based on length of EVA pod. Approximate Space Station 5 diameter calculated based on estimated length of Orion space clipper.
- Starship Troopers — Sizes obtained from the official Starship Troopers website. (August 2002)
- Space: Above and Beyond — Sizes obtained from official S:AAB manuals and charts. (August 2002)
- Galaxy Quest — Size uncertain, calculated based on estimated length of command module.
Note: Reference links may be out of date due to moved or deleted pages.