Sci-Fi’s Most Underrated Franchise Has The Best Starships

Stargate is more than just gate travel. Fly to the stars with the best ships of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe.

By Joshua Tyler | Published

The Stargate franchise is massive, with a movie and multiple television series spanning hundreds of episodes. And while the franchise is named after the gate characters travel through to get to alien planets

Gate travel isn’t the only way to get around the galaxy in the Stargate universe. Starships were introduced as an alternative form of travel from the start, with the movie’s villain arriving on the scene in a massive, flying space pyramid. As the franchise grew on television, more ships were introduced and used throughout the series.

Stargate's best starships

Many of those ships are bizarre creations of alien races. Others are stout battleships made by the people of Earth. But Stargate’s universe of incredibly cool ships has always been one of the most underrated aspects of the franchise.

Here’s what you missed if you haven’t watched every episode of the Stargate franchise’s three different television series.

These are Stargate’s best starships

The Ships of the Tau’ri

Tau’ri is the name used by most aliens to refer to the people of Earth. We Tau’ri were slow to the starship game.

Initially the only method humans had for reaching other worlds was by using the Ancients’ pre-existing network of Stargates. As humans explored new worlds and learned more, that began to change.

It started with a series of small fighters based on the designs of captured Goa’uld Death Gliders. Those fighters were not equipped for interstellar flight but were capable of space flight around Earth.

Faced with the massive battlecruisers and carriers of enemies like the Goa’uld, the Tau’ri knew those wouldn’t be enough. And so work began on the X-303.

Redesignated the BC-303 class once testing was over, there was only one ship of the type produced. That ship was named Prometheus, and more apt name for it there could not be.

Stargate ship
Stargate’s BC-303, Prometheus

Designed by SG-1 team member Samantha Carter, the Prometheus was Earth’s first attempt to build a ship capable of competing with the big warships of the Galaxy’s alien races. For four years after its construction, the Prometheus was the only functional deep space ship operated by humans.

One ship, against an entire galaxy of hostile aliens.

If you’re only going to have one ship, it had better be good. And Prometheus was good.

When designing the first Tau’ri Battlecruiser, Samantha Carter took everything she’d learned from the alien races they’d encountered and incorporated it into her design. The Prometheus, first and only of its kind, measured 195 meters long and 80 meters wide. It operated with a standard crew complement of 115.

Prometheus's shields in action
Prometheus’s shields in action

To put that in perspective, a modern aircraft carrier is more than 300 meters long and usually operates with a crew numbering more than 5000.

Prometheus used Asgard shields and Asgard matter transporters. The ship’s initial hyperdrive was based on reverse-engineered Goa’uld tech. Later the Asgard would upgrade this with their own hyperdrive engine.

Prometheus was capable of atmospheric flight and landing. The ship’s primary weapons were Rail guns. These are powerful enough to take on Goa’uld ships, but basically useless against more powerful enemies like the Ori. 

As a secondary weapon, the Prometheus had 12 missile batteries capable of firing cruise missiles and nuclear warheads. These nukes are naquadah enhanced. Naquadah is the incredible substance the stargates themselves are made out of.

Stargate's ship bridge
Bridge of the Prometheus

The ship’s interior was laid out much like Earth naval vessels, and that familiarity likely made training crew easier.

The two pods on the Prometheus’s exterior are figure bays, each of which carries 4 F-302 interceptors. The ship’s cargo bay is located in the front, rather than in the rear. And it’s big enough to hold a Stargate which means this cargo area is at least 22 feet tall. Airlocks line the midsection of the ship.

After four years of success, the Prometheus was destroyed in battle with an Ori satellite over the planet Tegalus.

Stargate starship destroyed
Prometheus is destroyed


While there were plans to construct more BC-303s, those were scrapped in favor of the BC-304. Also known as the Daedalus class, this successor’s vessel replaced much of the salvaged and reverse-engineered Goa’uld tech used in the 303 with superior technology gifted to Earth by their allies, the Asgard. 

Stargate's BC-304, Daedulus Class
Stargate’s BC-304, Daedulus Class

This new class also featured significantly upgraded weapons, no longer relying solely on rail guns and missiles.

Six Daedulus class ships were eventually constructed and put into action, serving as the pinnacle of Tau’ri ship design.

The Ships Of Asgard

Stargate's Asgard Fleet

Asgard is Earth’s most powerful and reliable ally. The Asgard are a very old humanoid race and one of the most technologically advanced species in the galaxy. Few races can match the abilities of their ships, even the smallest of which are protected by ultra-powerful energy shields and devastating energy weapons.

The Biliskner Class is the most well-known Asgard ship, used at the height of their power. The Biliskner functions both as a mothership and a Battlecruiser, and it has the size to back up that role.

Biliskner’s measure 1400 meters in length and are 640 meters wide. They’re equipped with complex sensors, medical facilities, weapons, shields, and countermeasures virtually unmatched by the ships of any other species. 

Asgard Biliskner ship in Stargate
An Asgard Biliskner class ship

So close was Asgard’s relationship with the Tau’ri, that they eventually named a new class of ship after the leader of Earth’s SG-1 team. The O’Neill class was Asgard’s next step forward in ship design, meant to exceed even the Biliskner class.

It’s 100 meters longer and wider than the Biliskner class and many times more powerful. Eventually an entire fleet of these ships was constructed and tested in battle.

The O'Neill in battle on Stargate SG-1
The O’Neill in battle on Stargate SG-1

With high maneuverability and high energy output, few ships can challenge an O’Neill class in a one-on-one battle. 

The Ships of the Goa’uld 

The Ships of the Goa’uld on Stargate

The Goa’uld were first introduced in the original Stargate movie, so it made sense that they would also be the first villains of the franchise when it moved to television as Stargate SG-1. The ships they used in the movie carried over, too, but were refined, and the tech was given more detail as it was fleshed out over numerous Stargate television seasons.

The Death Glider was the most visible ship used by the Goa’uld in the movie. In the TV show, they kept what worked about it but also used it in space.

The Death Glider is a two-seat fighter craft. It mounts two staff cannons on its wings. Those staff cannons can be detached and used by ground personnel.

A Death Glider on Stargate SG-1
A Death Glider on Stargate SG-1

Death Gliders are short-range fighters, so to operate they require a mother ship. Enter the Ha’tak.

The Ha’tak was the ultimate expression of Goa’uld power. Able to be operated by as few as one crew member, these massive crafty usually carry 2000 Jaffa troops.

They measure 700 by 650 by 315 meters in size. With dimensions like that, Ha’tak have an impressive internal volume.

Ha’tak in battle

Much of that room is used to carry fighters. Ha’tak carry twelve full wings of death gliders. With an additional three wings of Al’kesh bombers.

In addition to the fighters, each is equipped with 60 staff cannons. On board you’ll find 15 transport rings, used to send Jaffa troops to any planet which might be in their way. A Ha’tak is capable of detaching the golden pyramid in the middle from the outer super-structure which holds the ship’s weapons.

It might be easy to mistake the pyramid at the center for the pyramid shaped landing craft the Goa’uld use to land in planets. But that’s a different ship, the Cheops class warship first introduced in the original Stargate movie as the primary vessel of Ra. 

Cheops class warship in Stargate (1994)
Cheops class warship in Stargate (1994)

The Cheops class is about half the size of a Ha’tak, measuring 300 by 300 by 200 meters. 

The Ships of the Ori

Stargate's Ori ships

The Ori were originally Alterans. At some point, a split happened in Alteran society and half of them began devoting themselves to religious pursuits. That half called themselves the Ori.

The Ori eventually ascended to a different plane of existence. One where they no longer had corporeal bodies. By then, their technology had reached incredible levels, and as a result, their ships were some of the most unstoppable and deadly in the Stargate universe.

Ori warships are among the largest space vessels ever encountered in the Stargate universe. They measure over 1100 meters in length and exceed 850 meters in width.

Ori ship landing in Stargate SG-1
Ori ship landing in Stargate SG-1

They are controlled using mental energy, so there are no traditional push-button interfaces. Each Ori warship has a primary beam weapon, emitting a massive charge from the vessel’s front. It’s capable of destroying many ships with only a single shot.

In addition to that primary weapon, Ori warships also mount several directional pulse weapons. Their shields are almost invincible. Even being rammed by a Ha’Tak moving at full speed has no significant impact on the shields of an Ori warship.

Ori warship being rammed by a Ha'tak
Ori warship being rammed by a Ha’tak

Each ship carries hundreds of fighters. And even though it only takes the mind of one individual to control each ship, they’re often crewed by thousands.

They aren’t, however, wholly unbeatable. Their shields fluctuate when the primary weapon is fired. Not enough to allow an exterior weapon through, but just enough to allow a transporter to transport something in.

Most of the time, however, it takes extraordinary circumstances to destroy an Ori warship. The Asgard for instance, eventually developed plasma beam weapons capable of penetrating Ori shields and destroying their ships.

Wraith Ships

Wraith ships as seen on Stargate: Atlantis

The Wraith are a hive species from another galaxy. Their ships reflect their nature.

The most impressive of their fleet is the wraith hive ship, a huge vessel designed to carry massive numbers of wraith. More than just a warship, a wraith hive ship is the centerpiece of their entire society. 

Each ship is controlled with a neural interface and armed with massive numbers of energy weapons. A single wraith hive ship carries tens of thousands of wraith who live their entire lives aboard.

Exactly how big these things are is a little bit up for debate. Obviously, they’re massive, but how massive?

Wraith ships as seen on Stargate: Atlantis
Wraith ships as seen on Stargate Atlantis

Most of the best estimates I’ve been able to find, based on comparison to other ships seen with them, put the average length of a hive ship somewhere around three and a half miles long and as much as 1.5 miles wide. Despite the ship’s large size, the wraith hive ship is capable of landing on a planet.

More than just technology, in some sense Wraith hive ships are alive. Its hull is composed of living, growing organic matter. This gives them the ability to regenerate and self-repair. That’s especially important since the ships don’t use any real shielding. 

Wraith ship explodes in battle on Stargate: Atlantis
Wraith ship explodes in battle on Stargate Atlantis

Due to their lack of shielding, Wraith hive ships may be big, but they aren’t actually all that tough to take down compared to some of the other truly powerful ships in the Stargate universe.

Ships of the Ancients

Ancient ships on Stargate

Sometimes also called the Lanteans or the Gate Builders, The Ancients are a powerful race that lived long ago and have since vanished from our Galaxy. The technology they left behind though, is incredibly powerful. Perhaps more powerful than anything else in the Stargate universe.

Their starships range from small shuttles perfectly sized to fly through stargates, to entire, flying cities.

A Puddle Jumper on Stargate Atlantis
A Puddle Jumper on Stargate Atlantis

Those smaller craft, affectionately called puddle jumpers by the humans who use them, are specifically designed to work in conjunction with the stargates, which were also designed by the Ancients. It’s a clever solution to the problem of speeding up gate travel.

Their bigger ships, however, are flat-out incredible. Ancient warships have been in service for millions of years and are still functioning and deadly. Four different classes of Ancient warships have been discovered, each with its own design.

Destiny as seen on Stargate: Universe
Destiny as seen on Stargate: Universe

But it’s all nothing compared to Destiny.

Destiny is a fifty million-year-old starship constructed by the Ancients and launched on a mission of exploration. Destiny is a big, big ship, measuring 747 meters long and 518 meters wide at its wingtips. It’s capable of carrying thousands, though when we see it on the series Stargate Universe it never has more than a few dozen humans aboard at any given time.

The ship can and does run on an autonomous AI, which has guided it on its mission for millions of years. It’s armed with heavy weapons batteries and anti-fighter weapon batteries. It’s also equipped with heavy energy shields.

The starship Destiny
Destiny as seen on Stargate: Universe

However, after millions of years without any maintenance, how well any of that still works is an open question.

One of the most impressive things about Destiny is its refueling ability. Destiny has the power to refuel itself directly from stars. The ship’s powerful shields protect it, while Destiny dips into the star’s photosphere and tanks up.

ship refueling on Stargate: Universe
Destiny refueling on Stargate: Universe

The Ancient Seed Ships, that Destiny follows, have similar abilities. Seed ships were designed to autonomously distribute new Stargates throughout the universe. While not quite as big as Destiny, they’re just as old.

For millions of years they’ve been following their pre-programmed course throughout the known universe, dropping off Stargates and moving on to their next destination.

An Ancient Seed ship as seen on Stargate: Universe
An Ancient Seed ship as seen on Stargate: Universe

This list barely scratches the surface of the types and variety of races and ships present in the Stargate franchise. Expect us to go more in-depth on some of these in the future, dipping into the underrated world of Stargate.