“Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets” was a 2004 BBC “mockumentary” which depicted a realistic “Grand Tour” of much of the Solar System. I’ve abstracted the following data from the motion picture – chiefly the day counts at different Encounters and a Date Schedule seen at Mission Control in Episode 1. Some of the dates aren’t internally consistent with the Day Counts. My interest is chiefly the kinds of orbital change required for each segment. The “Pegasus” is a nuclear-fusion propelled vehicle, which picks up extra propellant (LH2) from prepositioned tankers at each destination. Its maximum speed, achieved on its journey from Saturn to Pluto, is 80 km/s, though it does reach 300 km/s when diving near the Sun. Just how near it gets to the Sun isn’t quite explained, but a speed of 300 km/s is consistent with diving to a bit outside 4 Solar radii. Very close indeed.
For the initial short legs of the Grand Tour, from Earth-to-Venus, then Venus-to-Mars, the cruise speed needs only be the heliocentric parabolic velocity. A slightly hyperbolic orbit from Mars-to-Sun-to-Jupiter is required to fit in the given time-frame. From Jupiter to Saturn could be parabolic again, but the flight to Pluto and back is definitely at top-speed. I haven’t tried to fit the orbits depicted into a given time-frame, so the dates are only based on a quote that one of the characters had read “2010” (published in 1982) some “40 years” before. Thus the voyage is in the 2020s, at the earliest. Clearly an alternate world, as they launch into Low Earth Orbit on a Space Shuttle…
|Voyage of the Pegasus|
|1||Leave Earth Orbit||19-Jan-2025||0|
|Mars-Sun-Jupiter||Max V=300 km/s|
|Max gee 9.7|
|803||Saturn Orbit Insertion||02-Apr-2027||803||377|