Apollo & 2001 odyssey

Parallel projects — reality and imagination. 

[Index] Timeline: — imaginary HAL9000 shown alongside reality of the AGC & HP2116.

Imagination — the film

Kubrick already planning in 1964, began work on the film in 1965, the Odyssey was “launched” in April 1968.  Moon-landing just one year later in July 1969. The special effects in the film ‘2001’ were incredibly well done considering that nothing existed of the technologies Kubrick succeeded in showing. Graphics pads and coloured video screens in the space craft were accurately depicted, yet rapid miniaturisation of electronics in general was not so well predicted – as witnessed by the fascinating scene where the computer HAL is slowly brought to its knees by unscrewing physical modules from the impressive bank inside its so-called “brain room” within the ‘Discovery1’ space ship. Similarly, a circuit module “AE35” which HAL determined had failed [so luring the astronauts into a space walk to repair it] had a very much late 60’s flavour construction style.

Simulated weightlessness along with the artificial gravity “centrifuge” of the space craft were all totally convincing. The amazing rotating set cost about $0.75 million out of the films total budget of $10 m. The wheel was about 12m in diameter and 6m wide constructed in the Borehamwood studios, England. The wheel was rotated by a motor positioned in a closed pit below the studio floor.

In the imagined “Discovery1” space craft, such a centrifuge would be positioned towards the rear of the spherical forward section to provide a gravity living environment. Creative designs show that the centrifuge wheel would be turned by a motor and flywheel assembly at the level of the wheel hub. Access from the rest of the ship would also be via the hub. In reality however, the space ship is not large enough for such a centrifuge to create a sufficient g force, even the huge rotating space station would probably not be sufficient either.

[Original photograph of “Discovery1” spaceship:  Stanley Kubrick exhibit at EYE Filminstitut Netherlands — CC-BY-2.0 — by FaceMePLS — photoshop masked version by marcomathieumedia].

Reality — the ISS

The real International Space Station (ISS) has not attempted to simulate gravity, as firstly it is in orbit around the earth and thus under the influence of earth’s gravity to around 90%, although people and objects do exhibit weightlessness, being in a constant free-fall. Secondly, the station is being used to study effects of a low gravity environment. Thirdly because to simulate earth’s gravity by rotation, it would need to be about one kilometer long rotating at about 3rpm.

[the ISS is coming to the end of its useful life with plans to gradually lower the orbit and have it crash into the Pacific in 2031. Russia will leave before that time given the current Geo-political frictions. Full story.]

Reality — our project ‘Apollo to P82’