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Is 2001: A Space Odyssey realistic?


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#1 Guest_JWebb_*

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 02:02 PM

Does anyone else have a problem with the space station docking in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

I'm not an engineer but I see some pretty obvious flaws that have always bothered me.

1. The space station is rotating pretty slowly.  Could this speed generate anything like Earth gravity?  How fast would it have to rotate to generate the Earth gravity that we see in the movie?

2. The PanAm shuttle rotates to match the space station's rotation.  Is this even possible?  Couldn't they attach some sort of tunnel on ball bearings that the shuttle could attach to?

3. After the shuttle lands an entire room is closed off and filled with air.  Do they have an unlimited air supply that that they can use for this?  The lunar shuttle suffers the same anomaly.



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#2 Bezukhov

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 05:31 PM

Never thought of that, to be honest. I was more intrigued by the symbolism in that movie. For instance, if you take the name of the computer, HAL, advance the letters by one you end up with IBM.


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#3 NickAu

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 05:48 PM

 

After the shuttle lands an entire room is closed off and filled with air.  Do they have an unlimited air supply that that they can use for this?  The

No they do not.  When they need do do a EVA ( Space walk ) the astronauts would go to an air lock suit up, then the inner door would be closed the air would be pumped into storage tanks and the outer door would open, When the  astronauts needed to return inside, They would enter the air lock, the outer door would be closed the air stored in tanks would be pumped back into the air lock. Its how they do it on the ISS.

International Space Station - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 

The PanAm shuttle rotates to match the space station's rotation.  Is this even possible?

I don't see why not, Unlike on earth there is no gravity or air friction to worry about.



#4 Guest_JWebb_*

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 06:49 PM

Hmmm ...

 

One reason Apollo 13 survived was that the LM carried a huge amount of oxygen.  It had no airlock and had to completely depressurize and re-pressurize after each each (anticipated) EVA.  I have never heard of re-using the air in an airlock but I can see it as a possibility.

 

Maybe it's possible to rotate a spacecraft like that and I wouldn't see gravity or friction as a problem.  I saw it more as a problem of precision.  Docking spacecraft in 2015 don't rotate.



#5 Guest_JWebb_*

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 07:06 PM

Artificial gravity may be within reason, depending on the size of the space station.

 

http://www.artificial-gravity.com/sw/SpinCalc/SpinCalc.htm

 

If it was big enough and didn't have to rotate faster than the movie depicts it would be easier for the shuttle to match its rotation.


Edited by JWebb, 25 April 2015 - 07:10 PM.


#6 Guest_JWebb_*

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 07:19 PM

Of course someone has already figured this out.

 

http://2001.wikia.com/wiki/Space_Station_V

 

Space Station V was the largest orbital structure ever built as of 2001. It is a large, international, rotating wheel space station, used as a transfer point from Earth orbit to the moon and other planets. It featured an orbital hotel, run by Hilton Hotels; a Howard Johnson's restaurant; lounge areas; and picturephone booths.

 

The spinning of the station generates artificial gravity, equal to about that of the moon's gravity. This gave travelers from Earth a chance to acclimatize to the low gravity.

 

Space station inhabitants don't move like they are in 1/6 gravity but no one had actually walked on the moon so I'll give Kubrick a pass on that point.



#7 mjd420nova

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 08:47 PM

I give alot of kudos to Stanley but Aurthur  did a superior job writing that made it easy to put on film.  It might have been called a Space Fantasy instead.  The wonders of Sci-fi makes anything possible and no explanation needed how it works. 



#8 rp88

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 10:38 AM

I'm pretty good at physics, and i know the film quite well, let me have a go at answering the questions:


1. a=rw^2 If I knew the station's radius I would be able to tell you whether it is spinning fast enough, the rate of rotation, in radians per second must be high enough that when multiplied by the radius, in metres, it gives a value for a (the centripetal/centrifugal acceleration) of 9.81 metres per second per second. As a note the spinning section in the "head" of the Discovery would probably not be able to generate significant artifical gravity , given it's radius it would need to rotate fast enough that the crew would struggle to walk in straight lines due to coriolis forces and would feel quite sick due to the much weaker gravity field at their heads than at their feet.

2. This could be done, but it would be a tricky maneuvre, the shuttle would need a to line up with it's nose-tail axis along the axis of the stations rotation, then make a long burn with it's roll thrusters until it was rotating in the same direction with an angular velocity (w) to match the stations. The shuttle crew would not need to worry about generating their own artificial gravity like this because the shuttle is so much narower than the radius of the ring of the station. You are right in saying that a tunnel which did not rotate with the station might be easier, but the method shown is indeed possible.

3.If you had enough air in storage, and your air locks were properly tight, and your pump were good enough then this is possible. Think of it as a giant airlock. The shuttle comes in, you seal the outer door, make sure the seal is very good, then you let air out of pressuried tanks and into the airlock, then open the inner door, let pasengers disembark and cargo be unloaded, leave the airlock full of air until the shuttle has been refilled with passengers an cargo going the other way, seal the inner door, suck the air out (as long as your pumps are good you should be able to get all but a few hundred grams of air back into the tanks), then open the outer door and let the shuttle leave. This would take quite a lot of energy to do all the pumping, and it would be rather slow, but it could be done with such small percentage losses of air (a few hundred grams on every cycle because not all the air could be sucked back into the tanks) that you could operate it for quite a long time before you needed your tanks refilling. The tiny losses are because any pump used to suck the air out of a space will eventually reach a point where the pressure within the volume it is emptying is too low for it to continue sucking, but the presure where this occurs for most pumps is low enough for these pruposes. An air tight tunnel connecting the shuttle (or moon ship)'s airlock to one on the base would be more efficient but this giant airlock method is still possible. Airlocks on the ISS definitely do recycle air by sucking it out of the airlock before the outer door is opened.

2001: A Space Odyssey is certainly one of the most scientifically accurate sci-fi films I know of. One notable error though is the lack of heat radiators on the Discovery, they would be needed because it is clearly a nuclear powered spacecraft and without them the ship would overheat. Although space is cold it is hard for a spacecraft to stay cool, because the only way they can lose heat is by radiation (where vehicles within an atmosphere can lose heat by conductiona dn convection effects too). Power output from radiation follows a law of the form P=kAT^4, K is a constant, A is the surface area of the radiator, T is the radiator's temperature, P is the rate of heat loss. If the area is too small the ship would equalize it's rate of heat gain (from sunlight, onboard systems and especially the reactors and engines) with it's rate of heat loss at an uncomfortable, or more likely lethal, temperature, so you need to give it radiators with a large area to keep the temperature cool enough for your crew and other systems. Some of the original concepts showed it to have large panels for this, but these were not shown in the film because some of the audience would have probably though they were wings, which a deep space vessel does not need.

Edited by rp88, 26 April 2015 - 10:50 AM.

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#9 Beings

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Posted 27 April 2015 - 06:28 PM

This movie is just a sci-fi. Most sci-fi movies are usually not realistic so I wouldn't take it so serious. But, if you want to take great detail of the movie, rp88 has replied with some good information about the realism. 



#10 Guest_JWebb_*

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Posted 28 April 2015 - 12:16 PM

Very good explanation.  Thanks.

 

Now I have noticed that the shuttle lands in the center of the station and would experience little centripetal force.  I suppose that could be reconciled by using some sort of tiedowns.



#11 rp88

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 12:03 PM

At the centre of the station the artificial gravity will be minimal, the crew and passengers on the shuttle and the docking crrw will float around weightless during and after docking, the passengers will regain their weight as they move outward along the station's arms into it's outer ring, at these wider radii the artificial gravity from centifugal/centripetal forces will become more noticable until they reach the radius of the ring, at which point it will be comfortable to walk normally. When another ship arrives for the passengers to depart on they will climb up from the outer ring and as they climb towards the station's axis the "gravity" they feel will drop until it is no longer noticable.
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