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List of spacecraft from the Space Odyssey series

Various fictional spacecraft have appeared in the Space Odyssey series by Arthur C. Clarke. Most prominent is the Discovery One, famously controlled by HAL 9000. The following is a list of craft and space stations depicted in the books and films of the series.


2001: A Space OdysseyEdit

Aries IbEdit

The Aries Ib is a fictional spacecraft seen in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is a spherical lunar lander built for providing regular passenger commuting between Earth's orbit and the Moon, just as the Orion III spaceplane (also operated by Pan Am) provided for travel between the Earth and Space Station V. It is nuclear powered; the high performance of its engines allowing it to make a fast transfer to the Moon (at about one day, compared to three days which were necessary for Apollo). It also carries a retractable landing gear.[1][2]

Discovery OneEdit

United States Spacecraft Discovery One (or XD-1) is a fictional spacecraft appearing in the Space Odyssey series, including the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Discovery One is a large, nuclear-powered interplanetary spaceship. Discovery was named after Captain Robert Scott's RRS Discovery, launched 1901; Arthur C. Clarke used to visit the ship when she was moored in London.[3]

EVA PodEdit

The EVA Pod is a fictional spacecraft used for extra-vehicular activity seen in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Jupiter spacecraft Discovery One carries three of these small, one-man maintenance vehicles.[4] The craft has similarities with the in development FlexCraft for servicing NASA Deep Space Habitats.

The Pod appears briefly in the background in scenes from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (in Watto's junkyard)[5] and Ready Player One (in Aech's garage)[6] as tributes to the film.


The Moonbus is a fictional spacecraft from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The word “moonbus” isn't referred to explicitly in the film itself; rather, it's called a “rocket bus” in dialogue, and, in an early draft of the screenplay, is described as a “moon rocket bus”.[7]

The vehicle is a small, low altitude rocket craft meant to be used for quick transportation of passengers and cargo above the surface of the Moon.[4][8]

Orion III spaceplaneEdit

Airfix model of the Orion III spaceplane.

The Orion III is a fictional passenger spaceplane seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is a two-stage spacecraft launched on a reusable winged booster. It is equipped with aerospike rocket engines and jet engines for atmospheric flight. Pan American World Airways operates the Orion III, just as it operates the Aries Ib. In early stages of planning for the film, the spaceplane's engines on the back were designed to break away from the passenger section of the plane.[4][8][9]

Space Station VEdit

Space Station V is a fictional space station seen in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is a large, international, rotating wheel space station used as a transfer point from Low Earth orbit to the moon and other planets. It also functions as an orbital hotel. Rotation of the station provides artificial gravity for people aboard the station. The station contains two bays for docking spacecraft, placed on its rotational axis at opposite sides of the construction. At the time of events depicted in the film, it is still under construction with an incomplete second wheel. A Hilton hotel is located on board the film version of the vessel, the company's logo visible on-screen in several scenes. The station is served by shuttle service from the Earth's surface by Pan American World Airways and Aeroflot, the logos of both companies being depicted in the film; the former is seen on an Orion III shuttle spacecraft, and the latter is shown on the hand luggage of Russian scientists stopping at the station en route back to Earth.

The rotating wheel depicted in the movie traces its lineage back to wheeled space station designs by Wernher von Braun[10][11] and Herman Potočnik, the latter describing such a space station design in his book The Problem of Space Travel - The Rocket Motor (1928). The studio model was reported to be eight feet wide (Bizony) or six feet wide (Agel), and stuffed with tiny lights behind the windows. Due to its large size and delicate structure, the model always seemed in danger of breaking apart.

The station was 150 meters in radius and made a revolution each 61 seconds. This gives an artificial gravity of about 1/6 g which is about the same as lunar gravity.

Kubrick had most of the models and props used in 2001 destroyed, discarded, or securely stored away so they would not be used in productions not under his control. When the Borehamwood, England, studio used to shoot the film was demolished in the early 1970s, the model for Space Station V was dumped in a field about 20 miles away. It was destroyed by vandals a few days later.[1][8]


In the end of "The Dawn of Man" sequence in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the bone launched by the chief ape-man "transforms" into a grey satellite orbiting Earth with the USAF roundel visible. A series of similar shots follows; in the next we see a similar satellite from West Germany, then one from the RAF, and finally a somewhat different design from China. The sequence ends with a shot of the approaching Station V.

In the novel, the satellites, carrying a "cargo of death" are, while trying to identify Dave Bowman's Star-Child incarnation, destroyed by Dave himself, who, aware of their futility in front of him, makes them explode as "he preferred a cleaner sky".[12]

The first or third satellite was also on the background of the title card of the film's trailer.

2010: Odyssey TwoEdit

The Cosmonaut Alexei LeonovEdit

The Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov is a fictional Soviet spaceship in the novel 2010: Odyssey Two, and its film adaptation 2010. It was named after Soviet Air Force General Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space.[13] There is a framed painting by the cosmonaut in the ship's mess room.

In the book, Leonov is described as being equipped with a Sakharov drive, a fictional new method of propulsion that makes it possible for the craft to make a round-trip to Jupiter. The craft also uses a large heatshield to aerobrake in Jupiter's outer atmosphere, saving fuel. The Russians are said to view gravity as more or less a luxury and the Leonov does not have artificial gravity. The ship was originally to be christened the Gherman Titov, but was changed later for undisclosed reasons; a character in the film version offers the cryptic explanation that "people [presumably referring to either Titov or someone involved with the current mission] fall out of favor", but does not elaborate.

In the film, Leonov is shown to have a large rotating midsection providing artificial gravity and has a large ballute in place of the heatshield. The model of the Leonov for the film was designed by Syd Mead.

Discovery TwoEdit

Discovery Two is an unfinished spacecraft mentioned in both 2010: Odyssey Two, and the 1984 film adaptation 2010, but is never actually seen. Little information is given about the ship, but it is explained in the novel that Discovery Two is being constructed under the supervision of Dr. Curnow to rendezvous with Discovery One and to investigate the failure of the HAL 9000 unit aboard the Discovery One. The construction of the ship is halted after the American taskforce instead travels in the Russian-built Alexei Leonov, as it would take too long to wait for Discovery Two to be completed.[citation needed]


The Tsien was a fictional Chinese spacecraft - named after Chinese rocket engineer Tsien Hsue-shen - that was featured in the novel 2010: Odyssey Two, but did not appear in the film 2010. During the course of the novel, the Tsien, a new Chinese Earth-orbiting space station, unexpectedly leaves on a secret mission to Jupiter. After burning all of its fuel to reach Jupiter before the Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the Tsien makes a perfect landing on Europa, prompting China to lay claim to the moon. The character Heywood Floyd interprets their actions as an attempt by the Chinese to use Europa as a refuelling point, after which they can rendezvous with Discovery One and the alien artifact at the Io-Jupiter L1 point before the joint Russian-American team. Before it can leave Europa, the ship is destroyed by the primitive life dwelling beneath the surface of the moon.

The wreck survives Jupiter's transformation into a sun, and as Europa melts it drifts on the new seas for some years, and by the time of the Galaxy's crash in 2061, it is used as a metal mine by the local species. During the novel it is briefly visited by the crew of the Galaxy who lay a wreath in memorial.

The Tsien plotline is cut from 2010 (film) and so the ship does not appear in the movie.

2061: Odyssey ThreeEdit


The Cosmos is the first of three versatile spacecraft featured in 2061: Odyssey Three, designed and constructed by Tsung Spacelines. The Cosmos is only mentioned briefly, its two sister ships, Galaxy and Universe, play a larger role in the story.[citation needed]


The Galaxy is the last of three versatile spacecraft featured in 2061: Odyssey Three, designed and constructed by Tsung Spacelines. While performing a fly-over of Europa, a terrorist seizes control of the Galaxy and crashes in the nearly all-encompassing ocean covering the moon's surface. Galaxy's sister ship, Universe, quickly responds, rescues the crew and passengers, and transports them to the nearby moon, Ganymede. The Galaxy was lost and ultimately sank beneath the surface of Europa's oceans.[citation needed]


The Universe is the second of three versatile spacecraft featured in 2061: Odyssey Three, designed and constructed by Tsung Spacelines. In the novel, the Universe embarks on a mission to land on Comet Halley but not long after setting down on the comet, it is called away to rescue its sister ship, Galaxy, which had crashed on Europa after being hijacked by a terrorist organization.

3001: The Final OdysseyEdit


The Goliath is a sturdy craft designed to capture cometary fragments and other stellar ice in the Kuiper belt to send toward Mercury and Venus for terraforming. The Goliath and its crew found Frank Poole's body drifting out near Neptune and brought him back to Earth where he was revived by 31st Century medicine. Frank later hitched a ride to Ganymede on Goliath. Like most ships of the era, the Goliath is equipped with a reactionless drive that allows rapid interplanetary travel, as well as artificial gravity on board. Many years after Poole returned to Earth, the ship and its crew were lost when a cometary fragment it was preparing for sunward launch exploded.


  1. ^ a b Ordway, F.I. (March 1970). "2001: A Space Odyssey". Spaceflight. The British Interplanetary Society. 12 (3): 110–117. ISSN 0038-6340.
  2. ^ Craig H., Williams; Dudzinski, Leonard A.; Borowski, Stanley K.; Juhasz, Albert J. (March 2005). "Realizing 2001: A Space Odyssey: Piloted Spherical Torus Nuclear Fusion Propulsion". AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit. Salt Lake City, UT: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. NASA/TM-2005-213559.
  3. ^ Clarke, Arthur C. (1972). The Lost Worlds of 2001. Signet. ISBN 978-0-451-12536-1.
  4. ^ a b c Ordway, F.I. (1982). "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY IN RETROSPECT". In Emme, Eugene M. (ed.). American Astronautical Society History Series. Volume V:SCIENCE FICTION AND SPACE FUTURES: PAST AND PRESENT. San Diego, Calif.: American Astronautical Society: Published for the American Astronautical Society by Univelt. pp. 47–105. ISBN 0-87703-173-8.
  5. ^ (1999-08-30). "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Easter Egg - 2001 Pod in Junkyard". Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Kubrick Site, draft screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey, circa 1965
  8. ^ a b c Hagerty, Jack; Rogers, Jon C. (2001). Spaceship Handbook: Rocket and Spacecraft Designs of the 20th Century. ARA Press. pp. 322–351. ISBN 0-9707604-0-X.
  9. ^ *Bizony, Piers (2001). 2001: Filming the Future. Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 978-1854103659.
  10. ^ Darling, David. "Space Station". Internet Encyclopedia of Science. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  11. ^ Jackson, Al (2004-04-28). "Collier's Space Flight Series (1952–1954)". Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  12. ^ The Making of Kubrick's 2001, by Jerome Agel, 1970.
  13. ^ Neil McAleer. Sir Arthur C. Clarke: Odyssey of a Visionary: A Biography. RosettaBooks, 2013. ISBN 0-9848118-0-X