The Ships of 2001: A Space Odyssey: The Aries Lander

The Aries Lander was a deceptively large transport that traveled between the orbiting space station and the moon.  Several levels tall, the Lander carried passengers and supplies to the US moonbase.

A sphere designed strictly for flight outside of atmosphere, the Aries Lander’s cockpit is set at a different angle than the passenger deck; this design element is also seen on the USS Discovery.  This was brilliantly illustrated (and further demonstrated the effects of zero gravity) during one of 2001’s key moments, when a stewardess emerged from the flight deck and began service on the passenger deck.  Since the passenger compartment was oriented at a completely different angle than the flight deck, she has to step out of the flight deck, then walk part-way around a circular pathway before she was properly oriented to the passenger compartment floor.

Also key in the Aries sequence is a look into the food that was available to the passengers aboard such a craft.  Popular opinion at the time held that food in its natural form would no longer be necessary in developed countries of the world since people would get their nutrition from pills that would supply their daily needs.  Liquid nutrients, then, would be a pleasurable alternative for passengers in space that would allow them to enjoy their meals in a weightless environment.  This was also another example of Kubrick’s genius, where he treated futuristic aspects of the story as if they were everyday objects – which, in fact, they would be, even if they were unfamiliar to us, the audience.