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重返月球

来源: 时间:2008-03-11 18:05:29
  Three decades after the last Apollo flew, new American crews may walk the lunar soil. Here's how they'll go.
  距阿波罗号的最后一次飞行已经三十年了,新的宇航员小组可能会行走在月球的土地上。他们将如何进行呢?
  
  It's not easy to forget the moon. The images of NASA's celebrated lunar landings are lasered onto the national retina, and perhaps no two things are better remembered than the sister ships that made the trips: the cone-shaped Apollo command module and the leggy lunar lander. If NASA has its way, those kinds of spacecraft will be flying again soon. They will not, however, be your daddy's moonships.
  
  要忘记月球并不容易。对于NASA(美国宇航局)著名的月球登陆已给全国(美国)留下了深刻印象,而且也许除了实现该行程的姊妹舰们:锥形的阿波罗号驾驶舱以及长腿月球登陆车,没有其它的两件事物能更被人铭记。如果NASA能按自己意愿行事的话,那些各种型号的太空船很快将会再度飞行。但它们不会是你父亲时代的探月太空船。
  
  In January 2004 President Bush announced his plan to send Americans back to the moon and onto Mars. Those bold goals—which NASA estimates it could achieve by 2018 and 2030, respectively—would at last free the nation of the 25-year drudgery of the shuttle program. The idea raised eyebrows--not least because of its price tag, distant target dates and suspicious initial timing, at the start of the 2004 election cycle. In the two years since, however, funding has been forthcoming and design work has begun, with aerodynamic testing on scale models under way at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. While political and fiscal obstacles could still scuttle the whole plan, the ships taking shape in the NASA labs are winning deserved raves.
  
  2004年1月布什总统宣布他计划派送美国人返回月球以及登陆火星。那些大胆的目标(据NASA估计分别能于2018至2030年达成)将最终使国家(美国)从航天计划25年的苦差中解放出来。在2004年选举周期开始时,这个想法引起了一些人的怀疑——主要是因为其费用、遥远的预定日期以及可疑的初始时间选择。然而,自那时起两年内,在阿拉巴马州汉斯维尔的马歇尔航天飞行中心,资金已经到位,而且设计工作已经开始,同时缩尺模型空气动力测试也在进行中。虽然政治和财政上的妨害仍能毁掉整个计划,在NASA实验室中成形的飞船正理所当然地获得热情吹捧。
  
  The thing that has made the shuttles such lethal disappointments is that they have tried to do too many things--fly like a spacecraft, land like an airplane, haul cargo like a truck. Part of the reason the Apollo ships succeeded was that they had an exceedingly clear goal: to fly to the moon and strictly obey the laws of simplicity and safety on the way. Both ships were also wisely mounted at the top of the booster that lifted them off the ground--keeping them away from the fire and foam that killed Challenger and Columbia.
  航天飞机之所以招致毁灭性的挫败,是因为它们做了过多尝试——像宇宙飞船那样飞行,像飞机那样着陆,像卡车那样拖运货物。阿波罗号飞船成功的部分原因是有非常明确的目标:飞往月球,并在途中严格遵照简明及安全的法则。两架飞船还被明智地安在了用于发射它们的助推器的顶端,让它们远离火和泡沫(正是那些毁掉了挑战者号及哥伦比亚号飞船)。
  
  The new ships will follow the old rules. The centerpiece of the stack will be the prosaically named Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a descendant of the Apollo command module but for a few significant differences. For one thing, it will be bigger, able to carry four astronauts comfortably and six a bit more snugly--twice the load of the three-man Apollos.
  
  新飞船将遵循旧的章程。其中引人注目的是名字平淡无奇的“载人探索飞行器”,它是阿波罗号驾驶舱的派生物,但有一些非常大的改变。首先,它将会更大,能够舒适地容纳4位宇航员,6位则略显拥挤——两倍于阿波罗号的三人容量。
  
  For another thing, it will be equipped with solar panels, a sensible addition in a sun-drenched place like the inner solar system--and one that reduces the demands on fuel cells and batteries. It will also be able to either splash down in the water as the Apollos did or thump down under a parachute on dry desert. Finally, modern composite materials and computers will improve on the ungainly weight and clanking brain of the older ships. "It's like comparing today's 737s with the ones that flew in 1967," says Scott Horowitz, an associate administrator for NASA. "Put them side by side, and they look alike. But they're entirely different aircraft."
  
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