A ‘Space Odyssey’ at ECWG September dinner

Fred I. Ordway III, a NASA scientist who was a technical advisor  to the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” described his role in ensuring  the movie’s scientific accuracy at the ECWG’s Sept. 21, 2013 Cosmos Club dinner.

The movie was filmed at the MGM British Studios, Borehamwood, north of London, during the latter half of 1965 and into 1966.

Fred Ordway

The photos in Ordway’s show were taken by director Stanley Kubrick’s studio photographer. They show key sets and the many distinguished consultants and visitors to the set.

Ordway talked about the technically sound elements that went into the movie’s set.

Those in the photos include Kubrick, author Arthur C. Clarke, NASA Associate Administrator George E. Mueller, astronaut Deke Slayton, anthropologist Richard Leakey, Oxford University artificial intelligence pioneer Prof. I. J. Good, and many more.

Ordway’s show included the various fictional space craft and bases including the Orion space shuttle, Space Station V, the Aries IB lunar space vehicle, and the Jupiter-bound Discovery spaceship.

Fred Ordway began his aerospace career in the early 1950s at America’s pioneering rocket propulsion company, Reaction Motors, Inc., in northern New Jersey. From there he joined Republic Aviation’s Guided Missiles Division on Long Island.

In early 1956, he was recruited by the late Dr. Wernher von Braun for his ‘rocket team’ at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Huntsville, Alabama. That team launched America’s first artificial satellite on 31 January 1968, four months after the Soviet Sputnik.

The space race was on. Ordway transferred with the ABMA team in July 1960 when it became the new NASA-George C. Marshall Space Flight Center where he remained during much of the Apollo years before becoming a full professor at the new Research Institute at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

In 1975 Ordway joined Dr. Robert S.  Seamans, Jr. (former NASA Deputy Administrator and later Secretary of the Air Force) at the newly created Energy Research and Development Administration in the Office of the Administrator. He remained until retirement in 1994 (by then ERDA had been expanded to become the U.S. Department of Energy).

Perhaps Ordway’s greatest contribution has been to the popularization of space travel through dozens of books that he has authored or coauthored. He also owns a large collection of original paintings depicting astronautical themes. Ordway was educated at Harvard and completed several years of graduate study at the University of Paris and other universities in Europe.

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