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2023-04-12 05:45 已有人浏览
本文摘要:Since the end of the 30-year US space shuttle programme in 2011, manned space flight has dwindled to a series of mundane but bone-shaking bus-rides on Russian rockets up to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. 2011年美国完结为期30年


Since the end of the 30-year US space shuttle programme in 2011, manned space flight has dwindled to a series of mundane but bone-shaking bus-rides on Russian rockets up to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. 2011年美国完结为期30年的航天飞机计划以后,载人太空飞行就只只剩了一系列奇怪而摇晃的配备俄罗斯火箭前往在较低地轨道运营的国际空间站的太空巴士航行。True, Nasa, still by far the world’s largest space agency, is developing a new generation of manned spacecraft. 到底,作为仍然以来全世界仅次于的航天机构,美国国家航空航天局(Nasa)正在研发新一代载人飞行器。But a working prototype — let alone a new Apollo-style programme — is many years away.但是用上一架可投入使用的原型机还必须许多年的时间,更加不用说明确提出一项可与阿波罗计划相提并论的新航天计划了。

Logically, this hiatus should provide an opportunity to rethink the whole purpose of sending people into space, an environment so profoundly hostile that huge sums have to be spent making travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere even remotely safe. 按理说这个间隙是个很好的时机,我们正好反省把人类送到太空到底有何意义,却是太空环境极为险恶,意味着是为了确保飞到地球大气层的航行具备丝毫的安全性就必须投放可观资金。But too many Americans still feel a compulsion to spend billions of tax dollars on manned space flight for a re-evaluation to be politically feasible. 但是美国依然有过于多人怀著冲动,期望投放巨额纳税人资金对载人太空飞行展开新的评估,使其具备政治可行性。When, in 2010, President Barack Obama scrapped the Constellation programme that would have taken the US back to the moon by the next decade, the storm of protest was intense.2010年美国总统巴拉克奥巴马(Barack Obama)中止在下个10年重回月球的星座计划时,就引起了反感的抗议浪潮。

The latest to capitalise on the inchoate desire to slip Earth’s surly bonds is the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Elon Musk. 近期一位想利用人类尚能正处于早期阶段的渴求挣脱地球蛮横羁绊心理的是硅谷企业家埃隆马斯克(Elon Musk),他明确提出了一项让星际旅行梦想复活的计划:He has come forward with a plan to revive the dream of interplanetary travel, proposing a reusable spaceship that he estimates that could travel between Earth and Mars in three months, starting sometime in the 2020s. 修建一艘可以重复使用的宇宙飞船,它可以在3个月时间内往来于地球和火星之间,在2020年至2030年之间的某个时间点开始投入使用。This would be the first step to building a larger fleet and ultimately establishing colonies on other planets. 这将是打造出一支更加可观飞船舰队的第一步,最终目标是在其他星球创建殖民地。In Mr Musk’s view, that could allow mankind to become a multi-planet species — thus cheating its inevitable extinction on Earth.在马斯克显然,这将使人类沦为多星球物种,以此逃出在地球上不可避免的绝种命运。These are, of course, intoxicating visions. But they also raise questions about the merit of prioritising what remains, surely, a very long-term objective. 这样的愿景当然令人神往,但也不免让人心生疑惑:把一个依然十分将来的目标当成优先事项来处置否是非?Mr Musk’s project depends on technologies not yet in existence, whether propulsion systems or the means to protect any interplanetary craft’s human cargo against the impact of radiation in deeper space. 马斯克的计划各不相同目前仍未发明者出来的技术,无论是前进系统,还是维护星际飞船所载人员免遭深层太空电磁辐射影响的技术。


It would require partnerships with the public sector — not least Nasa — that could cost very many billions of taxpayers’ money. 这将必须与公共部门(特别是在是Nasa)合作,也就是说可能会花费数量极大的纳税人资金。Then there is the risk of failure damaging confidence in manned space flight for the longer-term future. 况且如果计划告终,可能会在未来很长一段时间内影响人们对载人航天飞行中的信心。It is worth remembering that SpaceX’s own record is not flawless. 应该忘记的是,SpaceX本身的记录并不极致。Two of its unmanned rockets recently blew up, one during a routine refuelling exercise earlier this month.该公司近期有两枚无人火箭摧毁,其中一枚是本月早些时候在展开燃料给养的常规操作者时发生爆炸的。

There is nothing wrong about bringing in private sector capital and know-how to back space exploration. 引进私营部门资本及技术支持太空探寻没拢。Mr Musk’s SpaceX has, through some clever innovations, helped to bring down the cost of putting unmanned payloads into space. 通过一些精妙的创意,马斯克的SpaceX协助减少了把无人航天器送到太空的成本。But manned space flight remains a grossly extravagant endeavour on any rational evaluation of the scientific benefits, which are often mentioned as its justification. 但是,根据对涉及的科学益处(这也往往被视为该领域研究的正当理由)展开的合理评估,载人航天飞行中依然是一项十分奢华的尝试。If past funds had instead been invested in unmanned exploration and space science, we would know far more about our solar system, and indeed the universe, than we do today.如果过去用作该领域的资金投入无人探寻和空间科学,我们对太阳系、乃至宇宙的理解不会比现在非常少。

Apart from national pride, the real reasons for manned space flight are those outlined by Mr Musk in his presentation. 除了国家自豪感,载人航天飞行中的确实原因正是马斯克在其演说中所阐释的那些。Advocates talk about the benefits of international collaboration and inspiring the young. 支持者们谈论国际合作的益处以及对年轻人的鼓舞起到。


But above all, there is the human spirit of adventure, the idea that our manifest destiny is to move out from the Earth to explore — and ultimately to colonise — the solar system and the galaxy. 但最重要的是人类的冒险精神,我们坚信我们的天赋愿景是走进地球,探寻太阳系和银河系,并最后在其他星球展开殖民。This long-term vision lay behind Apollo in the 1960s and also underpins Mr Musk’s interplanetary vision. 这个将来的愿景既是上世纪60年代阿波罗计划启动的背后原因,也承托着马斯克的星际旅行梦想。

While many people will now regard it as more fantastic than inspiring, it remains the best justification for sending people into space.尽管现在很多人会指出这个愿景与其说激动人心不如说不切实际,但是它依然是将人类送到太空的最佳理由。