"Monolith," 2001 A Space Odyssey, STS-98


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Astronaut Thomas D. Jones bought this sharpening stone to represent the mysterious monolith in the book and film, 2001 A Space Odyssey. He took it and the book with him on the first Space Shuttle mission of 2001, STS-98 on Atlantis. If he had some free time on camera, he planned to compare Arthur C. Clarke's futuristic vision with the realities of space travel, using the "monolith" as a prop in weightlessness. Jones credited the book and film for his fascination with spaceflight and influencing his decision to become an astronaut. He gave his copy of the book and this "monolith" to the Museum in 2016.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Arthur C. Clarke


Credit Line

Gift of Thomas D. Jones


  • Stone (silicon carbide)
  • Paperboard, Adhesive
  • Ink, Coating


  • 3-D ('Monolith'): 12.7 × 5.1 × 1.9cm (5 × 2 × 3/4 in.)
  • 3-D (Box): 13.3 × 5.7 × 2.2cm (5 1/4 × 2 1/4 × 7/8 in.)



Inventory Number