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2001: A Space Odyssey (Film)

Last modified: 2016-03-13 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: 2001 | star: 4 points (white on purple) | orion | space ship |
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National Council of Astronautics

Near the beginning of the film (screen capture), after the famous "Blue Danube" sequence showing a trip to the moon, Dr. Heywood R. Floyd, of the (fictional) National Council of Astronautics is addressing a meeting. Behind him are two flags — that of the U.S. (impossible to be certain, but no reason to believe it's anything other than the 50-star version current when the film was made in 1968), and a lilac coloured flag with a white star. I don't think that this flag is explained in the movie — I assume it's the flag of the National Council of Astronautics. (Googling on "National Council of Astronautics" also leads here, but this seems to bear little or no relation to 2001. The logo of this National Council of Astronautics is here.
André Coutanche, 14 May 2005

Emblem/star has a single symmetry axis?

reconstruction from obscure sighting
[NCA flag]
image by James Dignan, 14 May 2005

I believe the flag (which to my eyes is more lavender than lilac) has a single white four pointed star in the centre, with the bottom point of the star being longer than the others, but it's impossible to tell from the scene it's shown in — and no, it's not explained at all.
James Dignan, 14 May 2005

Emblem/star has two symmetry axes?

reconstruction from obscure sighting
[NCA flag]
image by André Coutanche and James Dignan, 15 May 2005

I think it's darker than James's image and for some reason I had imagined elongated top and bottom points — and it also looks more like a 2:1 ratio to me.
André Coutanche, 15 May 2005

Emblem is space shuttle outline?

In my opinion, it is not a star but the (plan) shape of an Orion III space shuttle, such as the PanAm one shown reaching the rotating space station in the "Blue Danube" sequence you can see here (second row, third thumbnail). Looking carefully at the inner angles of the "star", you'll see they are not symmetrical — the top one is quite rounded, the (two visible) bottom ones are quite straight — that is what made me think the side "rays" of the "star" are actually the wings of an Orion shuttle.
Santiago Dotor, 16 May 2005

Wouldn't the Orion then be flying down the flag rather than up it? Not impossible, of course, but psychologically odd, surely? The "long ray" of the "star" points downwards. But isn't the long part of the Orion shuttle the front, with the wings towards the stern? So if the "star" is the Orion, then it's flying down the flag.
André Coutanche, 16 May 2005

I see. The question is, we can't see the end of that "upper ray" — why are we assuming it is shorter than the "bottom ray"?
Santiago Dotor, 16 May 2005

Looking again at the (admittedly not sufficiently explicit) screen grab, I doubt that there's room for the top ray to be longer than the visible bottom ray.
André Coutanche, 16 May 2005