Creation: Serenity is a fictional spaceship that appears in Joss Whedon's Firefly television series and related works. Set in the 26th century, the series follows the nine-person crew of the Firefly-class vessel, a small transport ship, as they earn a living through various legal and illegal means. The ship is the main setting; it appears in all fourteen episodes, the film, and all of the published comics. Serenity is described by Whedon as the "tenth character" of the series. Some reviews compare the ship to the Millennium Falcon in the Star Wars franchise. She has made cameo appearances in the Battlestar Galactica miniseries and the Star Wars: Evasive Action webcomic.
The overall design of Serenity was conceived by Whedon, who handed it off to production designer Carey Meyer for fleshing out. The shape of the ship was conceived when Whedon was searching for a title for the show. While looking for something "that's got motion and strength", Whedon settled on 'firefly', which also conveyed the insignificance of the ship and crew in the grand scheme. Whedon also wanted to quickly establish how much space there was aboard the ship, and how its rooms sat in relation to each other, to avoid the impression that there were "1,400 decks and a holodeck and an all-you-can-eat buffet in the back." He wanted a ship that looked and felt like it was used and lived in, to the extent that he claims "One of the first things I thought was, 'I'm gonna have a ship with a toilet,'" which appeared as a pull-out drawer in Mal Reynolds' cabin in "Serenity".
The design that Whedon, Meyer, and Loni Peristere (the visual effects supervisor from Zoic Studios) fleshed out was based on Whedon's decision that the ship would have the qualities of a bird mixed with those of a firefly. The long neck was one of the bird-like features, while the enlarged abdomen reflected the bug. The insect metaphor also reflected the ship's position in relation to the Alliance, the all-powerful government in the series. The main method of propulsion was developed from the idea of using a fusion explosion behind the ship to propel it at greater speeds than normal. This justified causing the ship's tail to glow like a firefly before the explosion caused the ship to rocket away. For secondary propulsion, to allow such a large object to fly gracefully in atmosphere and perform controlled landings, the group added two engines, each on a stubby wing.The engines rotate, giving Serenity VTOL capability, and would fold down and in like a bird's wings when the ship was inactive. Because the director, production designer, and visual effects supervisor collaborated on the design, Serenity shows less inconsistency between the size of the interior and exterior than other science-fiction spaceships.
Technical Specs: In 2007, Geoffrey Mandel, the graphic designer from the film, and Tim Earls, the series illustrator and film set designer, produced an official set of Serenity blueprints, which included technical data for the ship. According to the blueprints, Serenity was laid down in August 2459.The ship is 269 feet (82 m) bow to stern, with a 170 feet (52 m) beam, and stands 79 feet (24 m) high when landed. Serenity has a curb weight of 282,500 pounds (128,100 kg), can carry 164,900 pounds (74,800 kg) of cargo and 18 passengers, can accelerate at 4.2 g, and has a range of 440 astronomical units when carrying minimal cargo.
The interior of the Ship: has two levels or decks. The upper deck starts at the head of the ship, with the bridge area. This leads to the neck corridor, which contains ladders down the crew quarters, an airlock to Serenity’s exterior in a small side corridor, and connects the bridge to the rest of the ship. Next along is the dining area and kitchen, which is followed by another passageway leading to the engine room at the rear of the ship. The lower deck starts with the main airlock, which leads directly into the cargo bay. Behind the cargo bay is a common area and the ship's infirmary. At the back end of the lower deck is a number of passenger quarters, ranging in size from small rooms (used by the characters) to small tubes like those in Japanese capsule hotels (not seen in detail on screen). The two decks are linked by stairwells between the neck and the cargo bay, and between the aft passageway and the common area. A network of gantries around the walls of the cargo bay extend from the nearby stairwells, and also provide access to the ship's two short-range shuttlecraft, one of which is hired out to Inara as her place of residence and business.