Of all the media that has attempted to show humanity's future and how it will travel throughout the stars, the gold standard still belongs to Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, despite that future taking place 18 years ago. Kubrick's film takes the audience on an epic journey from the dawn of mankind to the next stage of evolution. But of particular interest is his illustration of interstellar travel. The film is famous for its commercial space cruisers ferrying passengers from Earth to orbiting space stations, but the most prominent section of the film is the "Jupiter mission" sequence, which involves the gargantuan starship Discovery One.
In the film's story, astronauts Frank Poole and David Bowman, along with three other crewmen, are sent to Jupiter to investigate a signal sent to the planet from a monolith on Earth's moon. Their ship, Discovery One, is an 800-foot United States Spacecraft (USSC) propelled using thermonuclear fission and features a sentient computer, the HAL 9000. But while those are very fancy words, what do they mean? How does Discovery One work and how long will it be before we can catch up to its hypothetical technology?
In “2001”, Discovery One takes approximately 18 months to reach Jupiter. While three of the crew are kept in suspended animation, two astronauts – Poole and Bowman – remain to…
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