Orion

Conquering Space

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Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey has got to be the perfect expression of the Space Age.  True, it came out in 1968, which was four years after the Space Age had hit its watershed, but Kubrick was a slow worker and the genesis of the film was firmly in the peak years of the space race.  Kubrick co-wrote his screenplay with Arthur C. Clarke, who was well-established as a hard science fiction writer. 

Together they were determined to make the ultimate space picture and it ended up as a remarkable marriage of some of the most carefully  designed technology ever seen in a science fiction film with a vision of man's place in the universe that was so large that it was almost incomprehensible. 

For the film, Kubrick called on the expertise of any number of high-tech companies, and he employed the services of technical artist Harry Lange, who had been working on advanced designs for NASA.  One of his most memorable creations was the Orion orbital shuttle.  Bearing the Pan Am logo, the Orion was the Sanger space plane come to life. 

So impressive was the design that many people in the aerospace field firmly believed that such spacecraft would be common by the turn of the century.  Unfortunately, when the 21st century came, neither the Orion or Pan Am were to be seen.

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