In the film, U.S. Air Force insignia, and flag insignia of China and Germany (including what appears to be an Iron Cross) can be seen on three of the satellites, which correspond to three of the bombs stated countries of origin in a widely circulated early draft of the script.
Production staff who continue to refer to "bombs" (in addition to Clarke) include production designer Harry Lange (previously a space industry illustrator), who has since the film's release shown his original production sketches for all of the spacecraft to Simon Atkinson, who refers to seeing "the orbiting bombs". Fred Ordway, the film's science consultant, sent a memo to Kubrick after the film's release listing suggested changes to the film, mostly complaining about missing narration and shortened scenes. One entry reads: "Without warning, we cut to the orbiting bombs. And to a short, introductory narration, missing in the present version". Multiple production staff aided in the writing of Jerome Agel's 1970 book on the making of the film, in which captions describe the objects as "orbiting satellites carrying nuclear weapons" Actor Gary Lockwood (astronaut Frank Poole) in the audio DVD commentary says the first satellite is an armed weapon, thus making the famous match-cut from bone to satellite a "weapon-to-weapon cut". Several recent reviews of the film mostly of the DVD release refer to armed satellites, possibly influenced by Gary Lockwood's audio commentary.
A few published works by scientists on the subject of space exploration or space weapons tangentially discuss 2001: A Space Odyssey and assume at least some of the orbiting satellites are space weapons. Indeed, details worked out with input from space industry experts, such as the structure on the first satellite that Pietrobon refers to as a "conning tower", match the original concept sketch drawn for the nuclear bomb platform. Modelers label them in diverse ways. On the one hand, the 2001 exhibit (given in that year) at the Tech Museum in San Jose and now online (for a subscription) referred merely to "satellites", while a special modeling exhibition at the exhibition hall at Porte de Versailles in Paris also held in 2001 (called 2001 l'odyssée des maquettes (2001: A Modeler's Odyssey)) overtly described their reconstructions of the first satellite as the "US Orbiting Weapons Platform". Some, but not all, space model manufacturers or amateur model builders refer to these entities as bombs.