Stargazer's

2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY

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Size and Interior of the Orion space-plane

Intellectual copyright © of  Ian Walsh 2003

If any of this material is used please give a credit mention and let me know by E-mail. Thank you.

 
 
Here is a scan of the cockpit of Orion from the book 'Filming the Future' by Piers Bizony  pg. 109 (the first edition). This is an original plan dating from the making of the movie, and has 7 dimensions marked on it ........Very useful.

This allowed me to create a consistent scale which I have marked in feet along the bottom of the drawing,  (the height of the door is marked 6 feet.)

 
Next I made a frame grab from the movie and used this to establish the width of Orion's passenger cabin, assuming that the door to the cabin is also 6 feet high...the cab works out at 18 ft wide outside wall to outside wall
 
The Orion's fuselage tapers towards the nose,  the cabin section (at 18 ft wide) must fit at its narrowest point of contact with the outer hull........   This dimension  then 'Drives' the size of the  whole Orion Spacecraft.
 
Arriving at 18 ft for the width of the cabin was quite easy... The length of the cabin is a bit more tricky though....
 
To do this requires making sense of some observations....the observations are as follows.........
 
#There are 5 windows,
 
#There are  41  ribbed upholstered panels along the length of the cabin, on the ceiling, and along the walls (actual 1/2, 40, 1/2     =41)
 
#There are 10 rows of overhead seat lights, 
 
#There are 9 rows of seats in the cabin,
 
#and 10 'pipe-like' sections running the length of the cabin at head height.
 
What is interesting is that these features are 'staggered' with respect to each other, but in a regular pattern .................
 
Everything is placed relative to the 41 upholstered panels............(These are the equivalent of the TILES in Discovery)
 
The  9 seats repeat every 4 panels starting from the back wall.... the spacing of the seats ( see below ) become the 'drivers' for the width of the panels.
 
The windows are 5 panels wide and spaced 2 panels apart ........ the windows run the length of the cab like this ...(from the rear of the cab)
1/2 , 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, 5, 4,1/2
 
The overhead seat lights are spaced   1/2 ,1, then every 4 , 4 , 4 , 4 , 4 , 4 , 4 , 4 , 4 , 4, and 4, 1/2, panels
 
The pipe-like detail does not run across the half panel at each end, but starts at the first whole panel to 4, then every 4 panels to the end of the cab. ......

Click here to see Drawing of above

 
All of the above could be drawn with some 'ease' using any arbitrary width for a panel, as no useful clue is given as to how wide a single panel is (and so how long the cabin is)...( if each panel were 1 foot wide then it would be easy... the cabin would be 41ft long) ............So this is where some detective work is required........
 
The seats cant be so close together  that they touch each other, allowing no leg room.... nor can they be so far apart that they do not much resemble what is seen in the movie......... so how far apart to place them???? .The WINDOWS ON THE OUTSIDE of the Orion have to be taken into consideration at this stage.... There really is no way that the windows on the Outside of Orion are compatible (to a reasonable scale) with the Interior set's windows ( except in that there are 5 of them ) so the exterior windows HAVE to be stretched slightly to match ..........
 

The minimum expansion  (lengthways) of the exterior windows, along with the spacing of the seats therefore becomes  the 'drivers'  for  the length of the interior.     click here for drawing of passenger cabin

 

 The spacing between the seats is kept to the 'practical' minimum so that the exterior windows are  s  t  r  e  t  c  h  e  d  as little as possible, (and so moved sternward as little as possible...  the forward window does not move position at all ) .......This is the ONLY alteration that I have made to the exterior of the Orion.......(except for the 'ridge' which I feel is a real artifact*)  In fact my stretched exterior windows are still shorter and better positioned than those on the AIRFIX Orion model. 

 
So by doing this the length of the cabin interior becomes 37 feet long... X 18 ft wide outside wall to outside wall (at the front end of the cabin )..

The cabin and the cockpit can now be drawn to the same scale, and then both have to fit inside the fuselage..........  the 18 ft width of the cabin* (along with the minimum movement of the exterior windows) becomes the 'driver' for this (as mentioned above) this establishes a 'common' scale for all three parts... ( the cockpit, the cabin, and the Orion itself) Click here to see the interior fitted into Orion

*   (Update   May 2013)

A plan of the cockpit area has come to light.  It has many sizes on it (in feet and inches)  CLICK HERE TO SEE IT It is easy to extrapolate other dimensions, and I have done so for the width of the 'airlock' area behind the cockpit.  It is 18 feet wide !!!

In fact 'my orion' would have to be even bigger to accommodate it at the  position it is on the Orion!!!!

 

 

 


Concerning the door on the side of Orion...

It seems that Aurora got it wrong. On their model the bottom of the door falls well below the wing ‘Landing lights’ This is not the case on the movie model, as can be seen  in these pictures (though the top of the door is about right). So by correcting this on the Aurora model, the door works out at only 5ft high at the144th scale that this kit is meant to be).... and works out at a very respectable 7ft 10” on ‘MY’ 213ft 1/144 Orion. (leaving about a 6ft tall aperture 'rectangle' from internal floor level to ceiling)


 

Conclusions....................

Like most of the craft depicted in 2001, the Orion suffers from the exterior being 'incompatible' at least to some extent, with the Interior,  whilst  the makers of 2001 made efforts to ensure that the full size Interior sets of all the craft depicted in the move were 'close enough' to the  model miniatures exteriors so as to be 'believable' at first second and third glance's. However they probably did not reckon on  model makers scrutinizing their work as closely  as we do.... This is when differences become noticeable......and the skill of the model maker comes into play......the trick is to fit the parts together with the Minimum of disruption to either the interior and/or exterior............In the case of the Orion I feel that by doing what I have done the ONLY alteration I have needed  to made  to get the parts fit  together is to the exterior windows on the craft by stretching them slightly......

It might be argued that I have 'cheated' by making the whole Orion larger .......But nowhere does anyone 'officially' state the size of Orion. (Except in the novel where it describes the Orion 'launcher' as having a wingspan of 200ft ).

 People have I feel, gotten used to the size of the Aurora and Airfix kits  and assume that they are indeed 1/144th scale, though there is no real reason for this to be so.

 The final size of my Orion  (if it were real) is 213 ft long, with a wingspan of 109 ft.......this is somewhat larger that the 'accepted' size for Orion ....But it needs to be this size in order for the interior to fit

 
At 1/144th scale the Airfix and Aurora models are 13 1/2 inches long, and 'my' Orion is 17 5/8 inches long ....(and no longer looks ' wimpish ' against the US space shuttle at the same scale)...........( My Orion is 17 5/8th inches long at 1/144 scale.... then the Airfix and Aurora models at 13.5 inches long become 1/190 th. scale)                                                                at 17.5 inches this model (by coincidence) is also very near half of the 3 foot (36inch) studio model size
 
The Area behind the cockpit (and steps) are speculative (see drawing).......but the area marked 'Galley' is semi speculative in that it is mentioned on the original Cockpit drawing, and is glimpsed through the opening door of the passenger cabin as the stewardess comes in......

As far as I know, no one else has (using a consistent 'Logic' )  managed to fit the interior set of Orion into the Fuselage.   

If all of the above is correct, then the Orion at 213ft long, can be used to help scale the size of the Space Station.  See page 3

* The  'ridge' click here to see a close-up grab from the movie seems to be a real artifact........I found it while viewing the Orion In detail using frame grabs that I took from the DVD. and enhanced....Having noticed that 'something' was there, I then went on to view Orion in other pictures such as and stills and ' out-takes ' etc. and sure enough... it does seem to be there, though I cant figure why no-one including myself never noticed it before.................

  12th  Dec.2003

I would recommend anyone interested in 2001 to purchase MGM's 2001: A Space Odyssey on DVD, not only for reference but because it is still even today, a darn good movie.

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