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Thomas-Peters's avatar

Leonov: Trans-Jovian Injection

The Alexei Leonov, not from the film 2010, but designed based on Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2010: Odyssey Two, and a bit of logical extrapolation of current s[ace technology, and Soviet design methodology.

In this image, Leonov has already broken orbit about Earth, and is beginning its long arcing flight path toward Jupiter. The Sacharov drive is thrusting at its full .1 g and the radiators are glowing dull red as they dissipate the waste heat. Radiators from the MHD powerplant are glowing slightly dimmer amidships. TheLeonov will pull away ever more quickly from the Earth-Moon system as the Liquid Hydrogen is expended in the 4 enormous boost tanks, which will be jettisoned when they are depleted.

Modeled and rendered in Lightwave 3D 8.5.
Thanks for taking a look!
By the way, the image really benefits from the full-size view.
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steve-burg's avatar
Yay! Heat radiator :D!!!

This is a very believable rendition and very consistent with the novel!
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Thanks Steve! I try to be as true to Clarke's text, AND present thinking on what this kind of vehicle would need, as I can. And I don't think these radiators could be confused for wings, as some of the 2001 designers were concerned with for DISCOVERY. I have had a few people think they were solar panels...which wouldn't be of any use at all out in Jovian space!
steve-burg's avatar
As far as confusing heat radiators with wings or solar panels, I think it's simply due to the fact this aspect of space engineering hasn't entered the public awareness yet. After all, we've never actually made anything beyond the chemical combustion rocket engine, and most science fiction spaceships are basically airplanes or battleships.

It's beginning to sink in (for me at least) that pretty much any real craft is going to be about 90% propulsion system. Incidentally, I'm kicking around an idea right now for an interstellar design. I feel most of the proposals currently to be found are overlooking the wear and tear such a voyage would impose on a spacecraft. More on that later :)
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Yeah, I'd have to say you're right on public perception. I have kinda 2 modes I design in-one for mass market, using a visual language that that has grown up from games, tv shows and movies, in which, as you say, spacecraft are essentially wildly powerful aircraft of warships, or the mode I work in more or less for myself, where I try to play at being an astronautical engineer. One pays much better than the other!

I agree on the wear a starship would endure. Anything going an appreciable percentage of the speed of light will be subjected to a lot more punishment than is usually designed for. This includes not only bombardment from micrometeroids but also gee stress to the structure. I'm really looking forward to seeing your take on this problem!
steve-burg's avatar
I definitely have the 2 mode "split personality" myself :D!

Things aimed at the mass audience are inevitably very "safe", and the emphasis is on polished execution. It's a rare occurrence to see a real "game changer" - very rare...

As far as interstellar space travel goes, it seems to me that something designed to achieve a significant fraction of light-speed and cross interstellar distances would need to be incredibly sturdy in its construction. I think a fragile delicate craft - which is probably fine for travel within a solar system - would stand a high risk of not making it to the destination. Even from what we can see interstellar space is a very "tough neighborhood" - and there's plenty of stuff out there that we can't see (because it's too small, too dark, whatever).
Thomas-Peters's avatar
You're right. In the novel, Clarke uses a hard aerobrake shield, instead of a ballute. Also, there was no spin-hab or centrifuge on the book's Leonov, it was strictly a zero-G environment.
Reactor-Axe-Man's avatar
I'd say that this is a respectable take on the Leonov. It's been years since I read the book, so I can't remember specifically, but I take it that instead of the inflatable ballute system we saw in the movie, the dome shaped structure of the bow is the aerobraking shield?
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