Re: Realistic in one sense
For a time I knew Harry Lange, through his wife Daisy (while she studied archaeology as a mature student at my University). He didn't talk too much about his time working with Kubrick, as he was generally a rather modest man, but he did say, in general, that he and the other NASA artists, hired for 2001, took their inspiration for how the outside of the spaceships should look, from their years of drawing and painting concept art for countless proposed NASA rovers, landers and deep space probes. ("A good picture could make congress open it's wallet" he once said.) He commented that "we may have over done it", since - at the time we were talking - hardly anyone had dared to present a movie spaceship, which did not feature that same, dull, slightly grubby-looking, matt grey exterior, with ports, panels, grills, handles and ladders all over it.
I've seen some claim that Lange 'designed' the Millennium falcon (it's a claim he did not make in my presence) but I do recall, he did say it was he, who convinced Lucas to stick a comms dish on it - as a homage to the comms dish on the Discovery, from 2001. Lucas had complained that people with faster than light travel would not bother communicating using radio, but Harry had replied, is his usual pragmatic manner: "George, who says its a radio dish? A parabola is the best way of focusing any kind of radiation into a beam, isn't it?"
Harry's love of wearing tweed flat caps, on set (although, by the time I knew him, he'd moved onto trilbies) is often said to have been an inspiration for the space suit designs of 2001 - a claim Harry certainly repeated, to me on one occasion, when he showed me a Set Crew's commemorative book, that was presented to all the people who had worked on the film, after it's success - pointing out the photo of himself, wearing such a cap on set.
However, a personal favourite - in cutting costs, to produce props - was the muffin trays, from Dark Star. "If only we'd thought of that!"