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The Satellite of Love

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Satellite of Love

The Satellite of Love (sometimes shortened to SOL) is the primary setting of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is a giant bone-shaped spacecraft that Joel Robinson and his friends — robots Crow, Tom Servo, Gypsy, Cambot, and the noncorporeal Magic Voice — live in. The vessel was in orbit above Earth during the entire series, except for a journey to the end of the universe [1] and its flight throughout the space-time continuum from Pearl Forrester. [2]


According to the show's storyline, as part of an experiment to see how bad movies affected a person's mind, mad scientists Dr. Clayton Forrester and Dr. Laurence Erhardt (aka "The Mads") kidnapped Robinson, placed him on the Satellite of Love, and shot him into space. In order to keep from going mad himself, Robinson built his robot friends from parts of the spacecraft — namely the controls used to begin and end the movie. [3] Eventually, Gypsy found an escape pod in a box of hamdingers and propelled Joel into it, returning him to Earth. In response, the Mads kidnapped Mike Nelson and sent him up to the Satellite of Love to take Robinson's place. [4]

At the end of season 10, the Satellite was deorbited and crash-landed near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [5]

The SOL KTMA era version

The Satellite of Love, represented by Thunderbird 3 from "Thunderbirds" from the KTMA Sales tape.

In the unaired pilot, series creator Joel Hodgson (not yet using his character name "Joel Robinson") claimed to have designed the Satellite of Love himself. [6] This was changed by the first aired episode to the more familiar storyline. The Satellite of Love during the KTMA era was also noticebly different than the version shown during the show's official run, built on a very low budget and not featuring the somewhat iconic "doggy-bone" shape. [7]

Original KTMA era SOL

Final version of SOL in KTMA era.


Little is known of the Satellite of Love's internal design and workings, following a general theme mentioned in the introductory song:

If you're wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science facts,
Then repeat to yourself, "It's just a show, I should really just relax." [8]
MST3k The Movie Bridge Scene

However, some aspects can be determined from the episodes. Based on the opening sequence of season 10, where the crew is briefly seen looking out a window, the room where the host segments take place is on the bridge, which appears to be in the upper-right sphere of the dog-bone-shaped ship. The crew is able to communicate with Gizmonics Institute (KTMA season), Deep 13, (seasons 1-8), and Castle Forrester (seasons 9-10) via a viewscreen of some sort (never shown on the TV series but shown in the movie), accessible through Cambot, which enables the crew to see the Mads and vice-versa. (For all intents and purposes, it was the actual television camera that served this purpose, since whenever one group was communicating with the other, they looked at and spoke directly to the viewer.) Another viewscreen, the Hexfield, similarly provided two-way transmissions to spacecraft interiors and other locations. An exterior camera called Rocket Number 9 enabled the crew to see the entirety of the SOL and any spaceships or creatures in its immediate vicinity; the crew evidently viewed this through the same forward viewscreen that communicated with the Mads (again, the actual television camera).

Each of the SOL crew has his own living quarters, the locations of which are unclear. Mike's room was only seen once when the Bots were stalking him by putting a "hidden" camera on a toy. [9] Servo's room is very messy, with underwear strewn about (Servo collects underwear), and contains a car-shaped bed. [10] Crow's room has never been seen, nor has Gypsy's. It is unclear if Cambot had a room or if he simply lived on the bridge. From season 8 onward, the ship was also inhabited by billions of creatures called the Nanites.

The Mystery Science Theater, in which the SOL captives watch and mock movies, is apparently located directly behind the bridge, on the opposite end of a long hallway with several oddly shaped doors (as suggested by the transition between host and movie segments), although the characters are rarely shown using it. [11] A few sightings include one instance of Mike and the Bots walking down the hallway, [12] and three occasions when someone runs into Cambot's direct passage before apparently being run over by Cambot himself — Joel and the Bots after a game of tag during the KTMA season, [13] repeated in a later nationally telecast episode, [14] and Mike alone after dislodging the stuck door in the season 10 opener. [15] Given the sheer size of the SOL, it seems unlikely that the hallway extended entirely from one end of the ship to the other, given that Joel and Mike were able to run from bridge to theater in so short a time; however, if it didn't, precisely what was at the other end of the SOL was never revealed.

During the Joel era, Joel was sometimes seen jumping into a separate entrance beside the main door to get to the theater,[16] In later seasons this opening would be changed to, among other things, an airlock leading outside the satellite. [1] In a few episodes, this hatch allowed the characters to send things back and forth between the satellite and Deep 13 via a long tube called the "Umbilicus", tethering the Satellite in orbit. [17] In its first appearance, the Umbilicus was directly attached to Gypsy's snake-like body, and the characters could receive and send objects through Gypsy's mouth. [18] This tether was cut in the season 7 finale, causing the satellite to drift off into deep space. [1]

The Satellite of Love was so large that many regions of it went unexplored, at least by Mike, who, during season 10, was surprised to learn that the SOL was equipped with a squash court, a silo, and a feed lot.[19] The presence of Joel's escape pod in "Docking Bay 14"[4] implies there are at least fourteen docking bays. The Satellite even has its own time machine which is built by the nanites during the episode Terror from the Year 5000 (like the time machine from the movie, this machine looks suspiciously like a water heater). Unfortunately, due to its emitting dangerous radiation, only the bots may use it, which they do a couple of times.

Another section, simply referred to as "the basement" by Tom Servo, is first featured in a scene where Crow attempts to "dig" his way back to Earth. [20] This part of the ship is located directly beneath the bridge. In season 8, Crow conducts an archaelogical dig to uncover his forgotten 500-year solo occupation of the SOL since season 7. [21] The SOL crew also discovers albinos living in this area that happen to resemble the light-deprived Sumerian descendents of The Mole People. [22]

Also shown in the movie is a device referred to as the "manipulator arms", a set of robotic arms that extend from an opening near the back of the ship, controlled by a pair of virtual reality gloves. [12] The hands were labeled "Manos" (Latin for "hands"), a joke referring to the infamous Season 4 episode, Manos: The Hands of Fate. A similar mechanism appeared during Season 1, but was never featured again.


  • The acronym SOL commonly stands for "Shit Out of Luck", meaning one has run out of options and faces a bad situation, which arguably Joel (and latter Mike) do. The naming of the satellite "Satellite of Love" was most likely a humorous take on this.
  • The satellite used to broadcast the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethons has been referred to as the "Satellite of Love"
  • Rock musician Lou Reed released a song on his 1972 album Transformer titled "Satellite of Love"
  • In an earlier draft of MST3K: The Movie, Dr Forester refers to the Satellite as the Stationary Orbital Laboratory, which shares the acronym SOL with Satellite of Love. It is considered fanon that this was the orignal name until Joel Robinson changed it for his own amusement, and the name stuck.
  • The Satellite of Love makes a cameo appearance in Green Lantern Corps #53 as some "discarded space refuse".
    In the not too distant future

    Some " discarded space refuse"

  • In the unaired pilot episode The Green Slime, Joel Hodgson describes the Satellite as "a space station of my own design." The series proper would change the backstory, adding the mads and establishing Dr. Clayton Forrester as the designer of the Satellite.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mystery Science Theater 3000, "Laserblast" [7.06].
  2. MST3K, "The Deadly Mantis" [8.04] through "The Projected Man" [9.01].
  3. MST3K, opening credits sequence, seasons K-5 (through "Mitchell" [5.12]).
  4. 4.0 4.1 MST3K, "Mitchell" [5.12].
  5. MST3K, "Diabolik" [10.13].
  6. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Scrapbook, host segment from unaired pilot "The Green Slime" [K.00]. VHS, Best Brains, Inc.
  7. MST3K, opening credits sequence, KTMA season ([K.01-K.22]).
  8. MST3K theme song, all episodes.
  9. MST3K, "Track of the Moon Beast" [10.07].
  10. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie DVD (1996), ISBN 6305078246.
  11. MST3K, "Wild Rebels" [2.07]. Joel specifically refers to the viewing room as "the Mystery Science Theater" during the invention exchange.
  12. 12.0 12.1 MST3K: The Movie, during the Hubble crash host segment.
  13. MST3K, "Humanoid Woman" [K.11]
  14. MST3K, "The Corpse Vanishes" [1.05]
  15. MST3K, "Soultaker" [10.01]
  16. MST3K,often shown in the opening credits.
  17. This device was, at different times, referred to as the Umbilicus, Umbilicon, or Umbiliport.Template:Fact
  18. MST3K, "Girls Town" [6.01]
  19. MST3K, "Hamlet" [10.09]
  20. MST3K: The Movie, during the escape-attempt host segment.
  21. MST3K, "The Leech Woman" [8.02]
  22. MST3K, "The Mole People" [8.03]


The Satellite of Love
Primary Residents Joel RobinsonMike NelsonJonah HestonTom ServoCrow T. RobotGypsyCambotMagic VoiceNanites
Minor/Other Residents TimmyMike's RobotClayton Forrester and TV's Frank (mirror)Eddie Nelson (Alternate universe)TV's MadamJoey the LemurGiant Tom ServoTibbyGypsy (mirror)Tom Servo (mirror)
Visitors Kenny and HelenKitten With a WhipNuveenaEnochTwo White DevilsDemon DogsMonadPhantom of KrankorOrtegaHenry KissingerGoosioMikey the Mike spriteJ.C.GoochJan in the PanGlenn ManningValeriaHugh BeaumontBrucePearl ForresterProfessor BoboGameraYakov SmirnoffEarl TorgesonLydiaDolphinsMothraBrain Guy
Terminology Hexfield ViewscreenRocket Number 9UmbilicusMovie signManipulator armsDeus ex MachinaHyper-warp escape shipsAirlockPhoton TorpedoWhirlpool
Locations BridgeTheaterTheater hallwayMike's roomTom's roomCrow's RoomJoel's roomKitchen
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