There had to be hundreds or thousands of planets to chose from. What was the cover story behind colonizing LV 426? We know the Weyland-Yutani Corporation was interested in the Xenomorph on LV 426, but the colonists didn't. The colonists went there for a different reason. Do they ever state in any part of the franchise what made LV 426 a prime candidate for terraforming?

  • 2
    They didn't say it in the series but the criteria are straightforward enough: exploitable resources and a fixable environment. You can't fix a inferno like Mercury, or an iceball like Pluto. You probably can't keep an atmosphere attached to a small planet with no magnetosphere. Tidally locked planets and gas giants have other problems. But if a planet has habitable temperatures over most of its surface, or would have them with a decent atmosphere, and you can sequester the atmospheric poisons and crack sufficient O2 out of the rocks or water, all you need is time, technology and energy.
    – Kyle Jones
    Feb 15, 2013 at 4:39
  • @KyleJones That sir, would make a plausible answer. Feb 15, 2013 at 4:48
  • There is ice on Mercury.
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 15, 2013 at 7:42
  • We have no evidence that other planets weren't also terraformed.
    – Stan
    Feb 15, 2013 at 17:30
  • Why do you only mention planets along the Nostromo’s path for comparison?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 8, 2014 at 17:34

3 Answers 3


It was Weyland Yutani that set up the colony not a group of independent colonists. This is quite obvious in the 'special edition' of Aliens where additional scenes are added showing the colony and it's Weyland Yutani branding.

Take note of this event during the Alien movie:

Accessing the ship's computer, Ripley discovers that Ash has been ordered to return the Alien to the Nostromo's corporate employers even at the expense of the crew's lives.

Weyland Yutani is shown to be a pretty evil corporation which was a common movie theme back in the late seventies and eighties therefore we can only assume that an unnamed someone at Weyland Yutani chose LV426 after the Nostromo dissapeared there in order to find out what happened.

  • 1. I don't recall anthing from Alien where the fact that the Nostromo touched down on LV426 was communicated back via any kind of transmission prior to the destruction on the Nostromo. Doesn't mean it wasn't, just don't recall anything in the movie. Guess I can go back and watch the film. 2. Assuming that the premise of the answer is correct, one than has to question why no one from the colony discovered the derelict ship prior to Ripley telling her story after her recovery. In Aliens, she explicitly confronts Burke about the memo he sent which sent the colonists to the derelict.
    – Stan
    Feb 15, 2013 at 16:55
  • 1. It seems very unlikely that Ash would communicate with headquarters in any way without at least mentioning where they are. Alternatively if the instructions were issued prior to departure then someone must have known where they were going. It's very unlikely that Ash had standing orders to expend the crew adn retrieve any aliens encountered
    – user11295
    Feb 15, 2013 at 17:00
  • 2. The alien ship is a long way from the colony but there's no real explanation in the movie(s) as to why Weyland Yutani didn't follow up on the Nostromo's discovery. I tink you just have to accept that it's unanswered.
    – user11295
    Feb 15, 2013 at 17:03
  • If there were means of communicating, why didn't Ripley take advantage of that medium to send info from both the Nostromo and the 'lifeboat' ? Instead, she had to trust everything to the log. If info was somehow communicated back, it must have been hidden from others in the corp because at the review where Ripley gets screwed, mention is made that the log corroborates some of her story. No one knew they were going to LV426 prior to departure because that wasn't known at that time. Only when Nostromo received the derelict signal was the crew awakened and the Nostromo redirected.
    – Stan
    Feb 15, 2013 at 17:27
  • If there was no communication you have to assume that Ash had standing orders to return any alien lifeforms that might be found to head office and the crew is counted as expendable in such a circumstance. Seems like a very silly standing order to me. Or that Ripley didn't have 'dial home' privileges. Or, and this is most likely, it's a plot inconsistency - most movies have them after all.
    – user11295
    Feb 16, 2013 at 20:55

Note: I have not seen Prometheus yet, in which some of these questions may be addressed.

It would make some sense that the extraterrestrial spacecraft with the space jockey (the chestbursted pilot) and the xenomorphs, which is shown at the beginning of Alien and Aliens, crashed on LV 426 not by coincidence but because at some point in the past, there existed life on this planet (all obvious traces of which are gone by now), e.g.:

  • The Space Jockeys had a base on LV 426 and the spacecraft was on its way there when being infected by aliens and thus crashed.
  • The Space Jockeys were in war with the inhabitants of LV 426 and the spacecraft was damaged during an attack and crashlanded. (I faintly remember to have read about crashed spacecraft being a bomber with the alien eggs being the bombs.)

Either way, this would explain that LV 426 to has somewhat life-friendly conditions and thus why it is a preferred candidate for colonisation without requiring a coincidence or Weyland–Yutani’s interest in the xenomorphs.

  • LV-426 is described in Alien as having a freezing cold reducing atmosphere consisting of nitrogen with high concentrations of carbon dioxide crystals and methane - "primordial" in the words of Ash. Not friendly to life. In Aliens the planet is described as "a rock, no indigenous life."
    – Jim W
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:00
  • @JimW: We don’t know how the distribution of life-friendliness of planets in the Alien universe is. Primordial may sound bad but it may still be the tip of the iceberg, if all other planets are gas giants, too cold, too hot, or otherwise useless.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:39
  • It's implied in Aliens that WY is doing a lot of terraforming, so there might not be anything particularly awesome about LV-426. Of course, if LV-426 had been a gas giant Alien would have been a very short movie and Aliens would have happened elsewhere.
    – Jim W
    Mar 15, 2017 at 3:31
  • @JimW: Sure, there might be nothing special about LV-426, but it’s also not implausible that there is something special. In most universes, terraforming makes more sense if you have a good basis. There is no point in even trying to terraform a gas planet or a planet that is too far away from or too close to the sun.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 15, 2017 at 5:59
  • BTW, you're incorrect about the space jockeys having a base on LV-426. In prometheus, the planet they go to has a different designation. It also has a very different atmosphere and is a lot warmer than LV-426 was at the time of Alien.
    – Jim W
    Mar 15, 2017 at 14:39

The Company was unaware of the events that took place during Alien. The existence of the colony on the LV-426 was entirely a coincidence. Going from the theatrical release of Alien and the Special Edition of Aliens, we may determine the following:

No Communication between the Nostromo and Earth

None of the events of Alien require any communication with anyone outside the ship. The characters explain to each other in the beginning that the computer has standing orders to wake the crew "should certain conditions arise"- in this case, the detection of a transmission indicating possible intelligent origin. The ship's order to sacrifice the crew in the name of specimen collection could have been installed at the same time the Company programmed it to wake up the crew to investigate.

Additionally, there are no signs of FTL communication existing on the Nostromo, even when it would be logical to use it. The crew attempts to contact Antarctica traffic control when they wake up but they immediately give up once they realize they're 39 light years from Earth (Zeta 2 Reticuli). No one attempts to directly contact Earth at this point, nor again later when the alien is brought on board, nor when they are attempting to kill it and not even when they learn that the ship's computer has been conspiring with Ash to get everyone killed.

The Aliens Remain Undiscovered and Unknown 57 Years Later

In Aliens, after the inquest, Ripley confronts Van Leuwen and asks him to go check out LV-426.... and he responds "I don't have to. There have been colonists there for over 20 years and they never complained about any hostile organism."

If the Company was aware of the alien organism on LV-426, why didn't they go gather a specimen 57 years earlier, after the events of Alien? Why spend trillions? quadrillions? and decades terraforming the planet and filling it with witnesses when you could just go gather some eggs in the first place? If they built the colony near the alien spaceship to facilitate discovery, why didn't discovery happen until after Ripley returns and tells everyone about the ship?

Their Discovery is Directly Caused By Things Ripley Says and Does

There is direct causation between Ripley's return and the colonists being exposed to the aliens. Ripley tells Carter Burke about the events that took place during the Alien film. Burke sends a memo instructing company employees to go investigate the grid reference with the alien ship after Ripley's inquest. Immediately after the inquest scene, two company employees discuss how a "mom and pop survey team was sent out there on company orders." Immediately after, we see the survey team discover the alien ship and become infected. Later, there is a scene where Ripley discovers Burke's orders to investigate the alien ship. Burke found out about the Aliens from Ripley and told the colonists to go find them. If not for that, the colonists could have continued for some time without encountering the aliens.


  • the events of Alien were known only to Ripley until she shared that information with other people 57 years later
  • the aliens remain undiscovered until Ripley tells people about them
  • the Company behaves in a way that is inconsistent with it being aware of the events of Alien until Ripley returns
  • the colony was founded decades after the events of Alien but decades before the events of Aliens
  • the colonists surveyed the planet for over 20 years without finding the giant alien ship full of eggs... until someone told them where to find it

Which means the Company did NOT select LV-426 because the alien ship was there. They just selected it because they're in the terraforming business.

  • There's a lot of assumptions here. Perhaps the Company chose that rock as a colony site expecting them to find something, and were then moderately surprised when they didn't. What are the odds that, with a whole planet to choose from, they chose to build their colony less than a couple of day's drive from where they found the ship.
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2017 at 19:38
  • There's no assumptions at all. This is all taken directly from the dialogue of the first two movies. It's not like this was left deliberately ambiguous by the scriptwriters- it's spelled out very clearly ithat they are entirely unaware of a crashed alien ship on that planet until Ripley tells them about it 57 years later.
    – Jim W
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:11
  • Accepting purely at face value the word of two Weyland-Yutani employees seems like the best way to find yourself impregnated :-)
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:22
  • No, the point is that WY knew that something was in the vicinity, they just didn't know precisely where. They evidently knew enough to put a colony within a couple of hundred miles of the alien ship. The odds of that happening by accident are microscopic. Imagine picking a point at random on the Earth that just happens to be within a short drive of your house.
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:24
  • Also, the "couple days drive" thing is pure assumption on your part. The site the prospectors are exploring is briefly described as being "out beyond the Illlium Range." Since we don't know anything about the topography or arrangement of geographical features on LV-426, we don't know if that location is days, weeks or months away from the colony. Since the colonists didn't stumble across it in 20 years, presumably it isn't super close.
    – Jim W
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:27

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