Crew of the Discovery in 2001 a Space Odyssey

Not sure if this goes in Cafe Society or IMHO

Watching the movie 2001, a Space Odyssey, I thought why not send a husband wife pair up there instead of Frank Poole and Dave Bowman?

Yes, I know that it is a 1960s movie but women were just as capable and their smaller size might actually be an advantage plus one would get a different perspective from a woman than Dave Bowman and Frank Poole (who could be twins the way they looked and acted)

Kubrick had showed a Russian lady scientist on the Space Station so he was certainly open to the idea.

Also, it appears that Peter Hymans in the 2010 sequel showed a lady, Helen Mirren in charge of the probe Leonov plus a second lady navigator.

There has been in real life, a number of astronaut couples

Sally Ride and Steven Hawley
Anna Tingle and William Fisher
Shannon Walker and Andy Thomas
Tammy Jernigan and Pete Wisoff
Bonnie Dunbar and Ron Sega
Rhea Seddon and Hoot Gibson
Karen Nyberg and Doug Hurley
Valentina Tereshkova and Andrian Nikolayev
Yelena Kondakova and Valery Ryumin

Although the only couple to fly together was

Mark Lee and Jan Davis

On a secondary point, running a massive ship like the Discovery with only 2 Astronauts seems like a very slim operating margin. (Yes, I know that Kubrick was trying to show that the HAL 9000 was capable of replacing Humans which is why the crew complement was 2 + 3 more in suspended animation.)

It also allows for a dramatic confrontation between Bowman and Hal once Frank Poole is sabotaged by Hal.

That being said, a close real life parallels to the Discovery would be the Space Shuttle which aside from the test flights usually had a crew of 7.

The second parallel would be a military ship such as ill fated Fitzgerald which has a listed complement of:

33 commissioned officers
38 chief petty officers
210 enlisted personnel

Obviously supporting such a large crew on a long space mission to Jupiter would be a lot more difficult however plot points aside.

Splitting the difference, I would think a crew complement of 10 - 15 (including some ladies) would be more realistic.

I only implied it in the the original post but the idea of sending the wife/husband pair on the Discovery is that they (by living together already) have already worked out the division of power and tasks between them.

With Dave Bowman and Frank Poole, it’s not apparently obvious who is in overall charge.

Pretty sure it was Dave Bowman in overall command but they were still going on overall orders from Earth although as they got closer to Jupiter, the time for any communications to come from Earth would be delayed and if a decision had to be made right now, it was up to the crew.

A husband/wife team by the virtue of living together previously would be very comfortable with each other and possibly be able to work better together.

With a same sex crew there is no worry about any one getting pregnant off in deep space, no matter how hard they try.

Oh, wait. There was a baby. Well, at least the ground crew didn’t have to deal with that one.

That would give one more crew member:D

That being said, most of the men and women going into space were too busy to even think about having sex.

But on the 18 month Discovery journey - there may be enough downtime for that,

Both Bowman and Poole had PhDs - in fact I think I’ve read they are supposed to have multiple PhDs. Today a married couple each with PhDs is reasonably common, back then it wasn’t.
As for the number of crew members, remember they put the others to sleep to keep them from blabbing about the real reason for the mission.
And you can’t compare Discovery to a military vessel which must be overstaffed to have reserves for casualties during a battle.
Bowman and Poole have clearly been on other space missions, so the command structure in emergencies would be pretty clear.

In any case in Kubrick’s 2001 there is not a lot of passion. Notice that the Russian scientist and her husband hardly see each other - she is on the moon, he is under water.
Bowman only gets to evolve into the starchild after he does something risky and human, not machine-like, by leaving the pod without his helmet, something HAL thinks is impossible.

Thanks Voyager, excellent points.

If I remember right the Discovery was a 600 ft long ship.

Whether staffed by Bowman and Poole or a husband and wife, it still seems that only having 2 people (even with Hal’s help) controlling a huge ship is still slim staffing.

Instead of a military ship as a comparison, how about a Merchant ship? They still have at least 10 - 20 staff piloting and maintaining them.

Or going to the early 20th century, Shackelton had 28 crew in his failed trans-Antarctic expedition.

I realize that the plot and keeping the characters to a minimum kept the active staff down to 2 and a plot point was the supercomputer Hal being able to take over most of the controls of the ship.

Also note that the sequel 2010, there were 6 (maybe 7) Russians plus the 3 Americans on the smaller Leonov despite being 9 years later and the technology had advanced since 2001. That being said, there was a cold war going between the Russians and the USA and the programmer of HAL was likely told that he could not bring his latest version (SAL) along.

Because in the 1960’s it was inconceivable that you’d send women into space on a potentially dangerous mission. Because in the 1960’s by and large women were NOT seen as being as smart and capable as men. The fact you ask that question shows just how much society has changed since then. It wasn’t until 1973 that any major US airline hired a woman to fly an airplane, much less pilot a spaceship.

Sure, 2001 showed a woman in space. She was, essentially, a flight attendant on a shuttle from one point to another.

In other words - in the 1960’s on a certain level extra-terrestrials guiding our evolution were seen as more plausible than a woman pilot/astronaut/explorer.

If I remember the book correctly, Bowman’s and Poole’s duty schedules were offset by 12 hours, so there’d always be at least one person awake and monitoring things, but usually it was just one. Bowman would have his dinner with Poole, but Poole was eating breakfast. Then Bowman would go to bed and have breakfast while Poole was having dinner, and then not see him again until his own dinner. So rather than it being a crew of two that have to work together, it was more like two crews of one that just compared notes occasionally. As if this mission wasn’t lonely enough already. Then when it’s predicted that the AE-35 unit will go bad, they adjust their schedules so that they can do tasks together to replace it.

I don’t think it’s explicitly shown to be that way in the movie. I’ll have to check the next time I see it for the scene where they’re eating together; is one of them eating breakfast goo while the other is eating dinner goo?

Also, remember at least 80% of the ship is tanks/spine and the reactor block–not a place where the crew could go. Of course, the Discovery was like a TARDIS–far larger on the inside than the outside.

My big question was where was the fuel to break into orbit?

Good point on the 12 hour overlapping shifts.

Still having one person on duty at a time seems very slim .

In comparison, the titanic in 1912 had a captain and 6 officers guiding the ship. Of note, they had a four hour on and off shift.

This is in addition to the rest of the crew.

Granted, it is not a direct comparison to compare a passenger liner in 1912 to a long voyage space ship in 1968.

Nor did the 1968 Discovery have to deal with some 1500 passengers on board or an iceberg.

My point being that any historic reference that I can find where a large ship, is making a long journey has a lot more than 2 crew members.

Even a commercial plane has 2 pilots (more on oversea flights) and a a minimum one of one fa for ever 50 passengers.

That was not covered in the movie 2001 and left to the viewers imagination.

Note that 2010 attempted to cover this by the aero braking through the jupiter atmosphere.

If you wanted a guess from me , i suppose they turned the discovery around and used the engines for braking as they approached Jupiter as the ship would be significantly lighter and thus easier to stop. However, none of that was shown in the movie. Good question, although.

I have a book that shows a drawing of how the interior of the Discovery is supposed to be laid out. It doesn’t look completely impossible, and Kubrick was such a maniac for details I’d almost be surprised if it wasn’t all planned and measured.

I do remember noticing that when the Discovery is found in 2010 that the bearings for the centrifuge section have frozen and the conservation of angular momentum has caused the whole ship to tumble. The tumbling is not along the same axis as the centrifuge (although someone here once pointed out that objects aren’t stable if spinning along their long axis), and the speed of rotation seems to be too high for the energy available.

On the other hand, the other ill-fated Fitzgerald had a crew of only 29. And most of them were for handling cargo, a task which the Discovery wouldn’t have.

Well, we have some small ships making even longer journeys with zero crew members. And the AI in 2001 is better than what we have now.
Most things would be replicated for reliability - I don’t know why the AE-35 unit wasn’t, though it probably had redundancy internally.
Ships can run into things. Spaceships don’t - or if they do there is nothing you can do about it.
I believe I’ve read somewhere that the Discovery used small atomic bombs for thrust, as was proposed at the time before various nuclear arms in space treaties banned it. (Some of the satellites in orbit, shown before we see the Orion are nuclear weapons platforms so this treaty does not exist in the 2001 universe.) That being so, no astronaut is going anywhere near the engines.
As I said, they were willing to take the risk of having only two astronauts to keep the secret of the monolith. Plus if anything happened to one, the survivor could wake up one of the sleepers.
Anyhow, we know the mission planners kind of screwed up.

Given what happened to HAL, the Russians could be excused for letting people do it a lot more than the Americans did.
Also, back then the Russians were far more primitive in terms of automation. Clarke often mentioned that the Russians had to build bigger rockets because they could not reduce the size of the controls of their missiles, which gave them an advantage in the Space Race.
They had nothing like mainframes, except for a few they smuggled into Russia. So the Russians being shown as having nothing as sophisticated as HAL is very reasonable, since the Cold War was still on in the 2001 universe.

Star Trek, TOS aired between 1966 and 1968. Women were routinely part of the crew and many of the missions were dangerous. While I think you do accurately describe the thinking of many men in the 1960s, I doubt that Arthur C. Clarke was so unimaginative that he couldn’t have conceived of a woman in space.

In the US. The Russians did just that in 1963. Valentina Tereshkova to be precise.
But women doctors were common in the Soviet Union long before they were common here.

Excellent point.

However, the Discovery also had cargo of a type if you include the 3 pods , a lot of scientic equipment plus all the fuel modules.

That and the montoring and maintenance of the equipment. Note that the same movie has shown a crew of least 2 pilots and 2 fa making the trip to the moon.

Yet a further trip to Jupiter has only Bowman and Poole plus the 3 in suspended animation.

Clarke could have conceived of it… the general public not so much. Remember that Star Trek was cancelled due to low numbers of viewers, and the idea behind making any book into a movie is to make money - meaning, convince the general public to come pay to see it.

Are you saying Star Trek was cancelled because it had women in the cast? If not, then I’m not sure why its cancellation is relevant. Besides, putting women in the crew is exactly the kind of thing that, to a 1960s mindset, would make it futuristic. And it probably would have been someone like Jane Fonda or Raquel Welch to give some added sex appeal.