"Explosive Bolts": Friend or Foe?

[In 2001, these bolts fulfill a "positive" function; in DR. STRANGELOVE, 
the bolts fulfill a "negative" function. Note how the cinematic echoes 
the literal in the following piece of history . . .]

While searching for SK's face reflected in Bowman's helmet glass . . . 
in 2001, I started to ponder the "CAUTION: EXPLOSIVE BOLTS" cuts of the 
pod doors. There are two full-frame cuts in the pod scenes. Now, for 
almost any other director, one could say that the cuts were simple 
foreshadowing but, IMHO, that would be far too heavy-handed for SK. 

Now, here's my thought -- not a theory, just a thought: I believe NASA 
personnel had some advisory input to the film. If so, SK might have 
gotten wind of the sad tale of explosive bolts in manned U.S. space 
flight. 

After the splashdown of the second Mercury capsule, Astronaut Gus 
Grissom almost drowned after explosive bolt circuitry accidentally 
fired, ejecting the hatch (and never mind about the movie "The Right 
Stuff". That whole damned thing was apocryphal) and sinking the 
spacecraft. NASA was very keen on eliminating failures of this 
magnitude, which failed to reflect elegant engineering. So keen, in 
fact, that the first series of Apollo command modules (i.e., "capsules") 
had non-explosive bolts securing the hatch. It took about 15 minutes to 
open a buttoned-up Apollo Block I spacecraft. 

During a countdown test in 1967, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee 
were killed when a flash fire spread through their buttoned-up Apollo 
spacecraft. Had the craft been equipped with explosive bolts . . . 

                                                                (J.G.)

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