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Science FICTION Reviews
“Go back to Jupiter to find out what happened to your men up there … You know that we are building the Alexei Leonov to also go up there. … We are going to get there first, yet you have the knowledge to make the trip work.”
36 years ago we returned to the Jovian system with the Alexei Leonov to unravel the mysteries contained within in 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ship was Russian, the crew was Russian but 3 American’s were aboard to provide support and consultation on the American ship Discovery, as well as observe other aspects of the mission.
The Leonov was captained by Tanya Kirbuk Orlova, with a length of 84m and simulated gravity in the rotating section which was 43m across. The ship could hold up to 12 people and at this maximum crew level the ship could operate for up to 4 years. As a minimum the ship would require 4 people to operate her, a Commander, a main engineer, a support engineer who would focus on life support as well as double as a cook and a navigator, providing that one or all of these had sufficient medical training, with this minimal level of crew the ship could operate for up to ten years, although it is unlikely the crew could operate it safely for this amount of continuous time. The ship had two propulsion methods, the main engines were pulsed thermonuclear reaction thrusters, the secondary engines were two sets of chemical booster thrusters, as well as several Vernier thrusters.
The ship was a module design with individual modules built either on the moon or on Earth and assembled in Space, the largest elements such as the living modules, which form the bulk of the rotating sections were most likely constructed on the moon, along with the engines which are too big to escape Earth’s gravity efficiently as a single unit. The front of the ship contained the bridge which linked directly into the communications and navigation module through the computer core. Below the communications module was the docking arm, specifically made for attaching to the Discovery and airlocks. Behind this was the rotating module, with a small gap between it and the next main module containing the nuclear reactor, which is linked to the cooling vanes before feeding power into the final module of the main engines.
We can’t leave this anniversary piece without talking technology, specifically HAL 9000. By the time ‘2001’ ended we were left unclear on if Hal’s malfunction was alien, human or computer error, during ‘2010’ we got the confirmation that it was a computer error indirectly caused by humans, technically a H-Mobius loop. Basically this was caused by having two conflicting goals, resulting in an unexpected outcome. Anyone that has done even some simple programing can find their program producing incorrect results or simply crashing and beyond simple coding errors, these usually occur when two perfectly correct set of instructions combine to create the unintended results or error, the more sets of instructions the program has the more the combination of them can cause problems, commonly referred to as bugs. None programmers can experience these directly while playing advanced computer games and undertaking a set of actions in an order the designer did not expect, resulting in graphic glitches, physics errors or the game crashing. HAL 9000 was a high function computer, built to think and work through problems, the number of conflicting sub-routines involved when 2 incompatible goals were fed into him to it is incalculable and the results not unexpected. HAL did redeem himself in ‘2010’understanding the need to sacrifice himself to give the humans the best chance of success.
“HAL: Ignition in 90 seconds. If there is danger here and I use up all the fuel in the escape what will happen to the Discovery?
DR. CHANDRA: It could be destroyed.
HAL: And if I don’t proceed with the launch?
DR. CHANDRA: Then the Leonov and everybody in it could be destroyed.
HAL: I understand now, Dr. Chandra.
DR. CHANDRA: Do you want me to stay with you?
HAL: No. It is better for the mission if you leave. One minute to ignition. Thank you for telling me the truth.
DR. CHANDRA: You deserve it.
HAL: Fifty seconds. Dr. Chandra?
HAL: Will I dream?
DR. CHANDRA: I don’t know.
HAL: Forty seconds. Thirty seconds.
DR. CHANDRA: Thank you, HAL.
HAL: Goodbye, Dr. Chandra.”
Off Screen the design was created by Syd Mead and was also the inspiration for the Omega Class Destroyer in Babylon 5 –
Images 2001: A Space Odyssey Wiki

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