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Leonov 1: The Odyssey Begins



It’s possible you’ve already seen this image (and the others from its series) as they’re also posted in the gallery of Drell-7 ( This was a cooperative project between the two of us, with final art execution by Tom (Drell-7).

I kicked it off by suggesting the idea of trying to design the Leonov in a form that fits the description and details of Clarke’s original “Odyssey Two” novel. While Syd Mead’s design for the movie version was interesting, we both felt that a) it didn’t entirely fit the spirit of 2001’s design, b) it didn’t look like a believable extrapolation of Russian design and technology, and c) it didn’t fit the design criteria outlined in Clarke’s text. So we started with a clean slate and re-reading the book.

"The Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was not a thing of beauty; but few spacecraft ever were. ... Apart from the four huge propellant tanks that would be dropped off as soon as transfer orbit was achieved, Leonov was surprisingly small. From heat shield to drive units was less that fifty meters."

Once we had all the descriptive detail plumbed from the book, we both took our own independent pass on what the book’s details pointed to for a design. We compared our blind sketches and found out we had a remarkably similar vision for the design. From there we integrated our two works, and moved forward refining a shared design. We looked to modern Russian spacecraft for trends in coloration, materials, and shapes. The whole process took 3-4 weeks before we had a finished model.

Once we had the model in place, Tom went ahead designing and executing a series of illustrations that would take place at key points in the mission profile to show how the craft’s mission-specific design would change in appearance.

This first image show’s the craft just before departure, in its most fully loaded state. The Leonov is a considerably shorter design than the US’ Discovery spacecraft. A pair of Russian "Pods" does final installment work on the comm/sensor boom equipment.

Art by Drell-7 ( Design by Rob Caswell and Drell-7. Patch by Rob Caswell.
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garryts's avatar
That's brilliant - how did I miss these?

Whilst we're on ACC - and also reflecting on your recent journal post - I have been re-reading a lot of ACC recently (in fact I read the entire 1000+ page short story collection during a recent hospital stay!). ACC's books have become an alternate history; because he generally wrote as scientifically accurately as he could, his books set in the near/medium term future (when released) now seem like a possible future that didn't happen.

Again, thinking of your post, I do have a sense of being robbed of the future we should have had - particularly huge technological leaps being replaced with meaningless iterations of smartphones and tablet computers.

Anyway, great modelling - well done! :-)