The Nova 5, part of the Nova fleet, was a Space Corps starship once powered by a Duality Jump Drive and operating in Deep Space. Its crew consisted of at least three female officers and a hyperactive, guilt-ridden DivaDroid International Series 4000 Mechanoid.
The Nova 5 crashed onto an asteroid, leaving the mechanoid butler alone with only skeletal remains to tend to for aeons. Kryten, programmed to serve and nothing more, refuses to believe they are dead. He has continued to prepare meals for and dress the now skeletal remains for an unspecified time after their deaths.
However Kryten also gained some relief watching re-runs of his favorite show "Androids" which gave him strange dreams of freedom and self-determination. His favourite being one of starting a garden, surrounded by things that he made grow. Kryten had begun this, to an extent, filling the wreck of the Nova 5 with plants, ferns and wall ivy, making the interior resemble botanical gardens.
The wreck of the Nova 5 was discovered in the Series II episode "Kryten", and was the first spacecraft seen in the show apart from Red Dwarf itself. Ironically, and hilariously, the crew of the Red Dwarf heed Kryten's distress call with much excitement and enthusiasm when faced with the prospect of meeting real live women for the first time in three million years. ("Kryten", Series II)
The Nova 5 is never seen after that episode, but is mentioned several times afterwards and recalled by Kryten with much fondness.
The Nova 5 was being hunted all along by Hudzen-10 in a Diva-Droid Shuttle, although he found it empty, Kryten already having been rescued by the Boys from the Dwarf. Hudzen was able to track Red Dwarf by following the mail pods. ("The Last Day", Series III)
In the Series VII episode "Ouroboros", Kryten expresses fear that he will end up alone again like he did on the Nova 5. In the episode it is also revealed by Lister that Kryten was responsible for the accident that killed the Nova's crew. A reason has not been given in the series, but the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers explains that the crash was caused by Kryten cleaning the sensitive computer terminals with soapy water.
In the Series XI episode "Krysis", Kryten makes reference to "...the Nova 5's," implying that his former ship gave its name to a class consisting of several vessels. It is revealed during that episode that the Dwarfers took Nova fleet finding software from the Nova 5, and use it to discover an earlier ship, the Nova 3. The Nova 3 also has a surviving droid onboard, Butler, who is several generation before Kryten and whom Lister thinks introducing Kryten to will help with Kryten's mid-life crisis. ("Krysis", Series XI)
In the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the Nova 5 is an American vessel owned by "The Coca-Cola Company" which was sent on a mission to induce the supernova of 128 super giant stars in order to create a five-week-long message in the sky visible even in daylight, reading "COKE ADDS LIFE!" Kryten causes the Nova 5 to crash after cleaning the sensitive computer terminals with soapy water. After the Red Dwarf crew finds the wreck it is brought aboard and repaired in order to utilize its Duality Jump engine, which could get the crew back to Earth within three months. However, although the ship is successfully repaired, circumstances prevent them from ever going through with it.
The unsuccessful American Red Dwarf pilot episode mentioned that Kryten had transferred from the Nova 5 to Red Dwarf early on, before Red Dwarf had even left Earth's Solar System, and so is on board and in the show from the beginning.
- The novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers goes into more detail about the Nova 5, such as it's history and original mission, the abilities of the ship, and crew compliment.
- The Nova 5 is the first spaceship to be seen in the television series, not counting Red Dwarf itself or the Red Dwarf shuttlecraft Blue Midget.
- When Kryten first contacts Red Dwarf he claims that the male officers of the Nova 5 all died on impact. He then sends the medical details of the three "surviving" female crewmembers (who are actually skeletons too but Kryten has convinced himself they are still alive). The medical cards are shown on screen, but go by very fast and so are easily missed. Their pictures reveal attractive women, and the information reveals their names are Anne Gill, Tracey Johns, and Jane Air. All three are "mapping officers", healthy (or were) and in their early-to-mid twenties.
- The scenario of Kryten dutifully serving the crew despite their deaths may have been based on the short story There Will Come Soft Rains. The story is about a computer controlled house that continues to maintain itself and fullfil its duties for its owners despite their deaths from nuclear fallout.