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2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey | Part 2, Chapters 7–8 : TMA-1 | Summary



Chapter 7: Special Flight

Part 2 of the novel is called "TMA-1," which stands for Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-One, the classified name given to the vertical slab discovered on the moon.

Dr. Heywood Floyd has had a midnight briefing with the president and is arriving at Kennedy Space Station in Florida, where a spaceplane called Orion III is being prepared to take him to the moon. It is an impromptu and urgent mission, and he is accosted by journalists as he walks to the huge spacecraft. Dr. Floyd buckles in and the spaceplane takes off; soon after launch he experiences weightlessness. The flight attendant confides that her fiancé is a geologist on the moon, and she hasn't heard from him in a while. There are rumors, she says, of an epidemic. Dr. Floyd assures her that even if there were, there is no need to worry.

Chapter 8: Orbital Rendezvous

Orion III makes contact with the docking arms of Space Station One, and Nick Miller, of the station's security department, meets Dr. Floyd to escort him into the station. There he runs into Soviet scientist Dr. Dimitri Moisevitch, a friend. However, Dr. Floyd is not enthusiastic about the meeting.


Part 2 of the novel picks up at the stage in human evolution that ended Part 1—a time when humanity was on "borrowed time" due to the development of nuclear weapons. After the sweeping generalities of Chapter 6, Chapter 7 focuses on one man: Dr. Heywood Floyd. Like Moon-Watcher in Part 1, Dr. Floyd is the protagonist of this section of the novel, and the lens through which readers can move from the abstract to the concrete.

Chapters 7 and 8 establish the urgency and uniqueness of this moment in the narrative. Dr. Floyd has been summoned for reasons as yet unknown to the reader. However, the text makes it clear that the reason for his hasty departure for the moon is of extreme importance. An entire spaceplane is made ready to take him to the moon, even though the cost of this trip is huge and would not normally be expended for one individual. Something big has happened.

The tension of the Cold War, which was not as important in actual 2001 as it was at the time the novel was written, is evident from the description of Space Station One. The station is a joint project of the United States and the Soviet Union, with separate entrances for each country. However, these separate entrances are "purely for administrative purposes." In addition, Dimitri Moisevitch is a Soviet scientist and Floyd's colleague. These details evoke the anxiety about nuclear weapons that was acute in the 1960s, while failing to anticipate the fall of the USSR.

Additionally, the chapters provide a fascinating glimpse of how space travel was envisioned in 1968. Clarke is meticulous in every detail from the mechanics of the flight to the measures taken for passengers' comfort.

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