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新一代载人猎户座新飞船 依然狭窄的太空之家

更新时间:2018-6-9 8:51:05 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What it's like to live in Nasa's new spacecraft
新一代载人猎户座新飞船 依然狭窄的太空之家

In 1959, when Nasa’s original seven astronauts first saw their tiny single-man Mercury space capsule, they weren’t impressed. It appeared to have no windows and few controls – the elite test pilots complained that they would be little more than ‘spam in a can’.

1959年,美国太空总署(NASA)"水星计划"最初的七名宇航员第一次看到他们的单人太空舱时,并没有觉得很不可思议。这个太空舱没有窗户,控制装置也十分精简,这些最优秀的测试飞行员都抱怨说生活在里面"比罐头里的垃圾"好不了多少。

This conflict between the astronauts’ desire to fly a spaceship and the engineers’ wish to simply get a man into orbit (and back alive) are illustrated in the movie The Right Stuff. With our silver-suited hero John Glenn threatening to share his views with the waiting press, who are clamouring at the hangar door, the engineers concede portholes and proper instrumentation.

宇航员想乘着太空飞船畅游,而工程师们只想把人送上轨道,再让他们活着回来,二者愿望的冲突在电影《太空先锋》(The Right Stuff)中展露无遗。身着银色太空服的男主角约翰•格伦(John Glenn)威胁工程师,要把自己的观点告诉等在机库门前大吵大闹的新闻媒体,工程师们只好让步,加上了舷窗和该有的仪器。

Almost 60 years on, a similar scenario is playing out in Houston – albeit in slow motion. Right now, astronauts are negotiating with engineers over the final interior design and controls for Nasa’s new four-person Orion spacecraft. First flown without a crew in 2014, it’s due for launch with astronauts on board within the next five years.

将近60年后,类似的场景在美国休斯顿再度上演,只不过这次是持久拉锯战。目前,宇航员和工程师正在就新航天器最后的内部设计与控制系统进行谈判。NASA这次新建造的"猎户座"新型四人飞船,2014年首飞时没有载人,但今后五年有望载人发射。

Today, the John Glenn role is taken by a former submarine commander and veteran of three Space Shuttle missions, Steve Bowen. I ask him for his first impression of Orion. “It’s really cramped,” he tells me. “It’s really tight for four people. The two people at the back will be looking at the seat pans of the pilot and commander above them.”

如今,扮演格伦角色的是前潜艇指挥官、执行过三次太空穿梭飞行任务的老兵斯蒂夫•鲍文(Steve Bowen)。问及他对猎户座飞船的第一印象,他说:"太狭小了,对四个人来说真的很挤。后座的两人只能看着上面机长和指挥官的座位底盘。"

Superficially, Orion looks much like the Apollo spacecraft that carried a crew of three astronauts to the Moon. Conical in shape, with a heatshield protecting the lower circular surface, the new spacecraft is a good deal larger but – because it still has to fit at the top of a rocket – not that much larger. And whereas Apollo missions only lasted a few days, with a stroll on the Moon to break up the journey, missions in Orion are planned for a minimum of three weeks and there’s no getting off.

乍一看,猎户座飞船很像载了三名航天员到月球的阿波罗太空船,圆锥形的外形,隔热罩保护着底部圆纹面。相比之下,猎户座飞船会大得多,不过因为仍然要装进火箭的顶部,所以也不会太大。阿波罗号只飞行了几天,实现月球漫步后就返回地球。而猎户座预计飞行至少三周,宇航员不会离开飞船。

“I don’t know if all four people will be able to comfortably stretch out all their appendages at the same time,” says Bowen, who has spent his career living and working in confined environments. “But it’s been done before, I don’t think it’s prohibitive – you’ve just got to make sure you’re used to tight spaces.”

"我不知道四个人是不是能同时舒展开来。"鲍文曾长期在狭窄有限的空间生活和工作过。他说,"不过以前也经历过,并非不能如此,你得确保自己习惯这种狭小的空间。"

As well as the crew and controls, the engineers also need to cram in a galley, recreation area and toilet. “There are tweaks we can make, such as the seat configuration. Once we get that aspect done we’ll have a better understanding of the living quarters and how we’re going to operate inside it,” Bowen says.

除了全体宇航员和控制装备,工程师还要塞满厨房、娱乐区和卫生间。鲍文说:"我们还是能做点微调,比如调整一下座椅。做完这些,就能更加了解整个生活区,还有在里面怎么操作。"

Although for long duration missions to Mars there will almost certainly be an additional habitation module, for the early Orion flights an area totalling nine cubic metres (316 cubic feet) is all the astronauts will have for working, sleeping, exercising and relaxing. Imagine spending several weeks with three work colleagues locked in a small room with a toilet. In space.

虽然执行到火星的长期任务肯定会有额外的一块居住区,但是对早期的猎户座飞船来说,宇航员们工作、睡觉、锻炼和休息的空间加起来总共只有9立方米。想象一下,远在太空,和三位同事挤在这样一个带厕所的小房间里朝夕相处数周,是什么感受。

“Somewhere down the road we’ll get to our final design and that’ll give us our settled chance to say how are we going to live in it for weeks on end,” Bowen says. “I don’t think anyone finds it too spacious, but I haven’t heard anyone really complain about living in those confines.”

"再过一段时间,飞船的最终设计就要尘埃落定了。那我们就要在里面连住几星期。"鲍文说,"生活在这么有限的地方,没谁觉得空间大,不过也从没听谁抱怨过。"

As well as helping to figure out how everything fits inside the spacecraft, astronauts are also involved in testing procedures for launch and landing. One of the big criticisms of the Space Shuttle (except on the early two-man flights), for instance, was the lack of any escape system if the rocket blew up during launch. This became horribly apparent when Challenger broke apart shortly after take-off in 1986, killing all seven crew members.

除了妥善处理好飞船里每一个细节,宇航员还要参与发射和着陆的测试程序。比如,关于航天飞机(太空梭)一一除了早期的两人航程外一一的一大争论就是,如果火箭在发射时爆炸,将没有任何逃生系统。1986年挑战者号航天飞机起飞后爆炸,七名宇航员全部遇难,以可怕的方式凸显了这个问题的重要性。

Orion will be launched on Nasa’s new giant SLS rocket. Like Apollo, Orion will have a small escape rocket fitted above the capsule to drag it away from a malfunctioning launcher.

猎户座将用NASA崭新巨大的SLS火箭发射升空。像阿波罗飞船一样,猎户座会在太空舱上方装一个小型逃生火箭,帮助宇航员能从发射事故逃生。

“The abort system test is coming up in the next few months,” says Bowen. “That’ll be really exciting to see – we’re also looking at what happens if something goes wrong at any point in the flight, so the crew gets more of a fighting chance.”

鲍文说,"中止系统测试会在未来几个月开始,令人十分期待。我们也开始研究航行中某个环节出问题时怎么解决,以给宇航员争取更多的逃生机会。"

Bowen’s submariner experience has been particularly useful when it comes to working out the best way to recover the astronauts and spacecraft once they return to Earth – potentially one of the riskiest stages of any mission. Whereas the Shuttle landed on a runway, Orion will splash down in the ocean after entering the atmosphere at some 11km/s (6.8mps) and descending under parachutes.

宇航员和飞船返回到地球后怎么回收,可能是航天任务中最危险的一环,此时鲍文的潜艇经验就派上了十足的用场。航天飞机可以降落在跑道上,而猎户座飞船则以11km/s 的速度进入大气层,弹出降落伞继续下降,直到溅落海中。

Bowen has recently overseen Nasa’s latest Orion recovery test off the California coast. “It doesn’t have a keel, it doesn’t have its own propulsion, it’s basically going to be wallowing around – it’ll be an interesting ride even in a low sea state,” he says. “I’ve had enough experience at sea to see some of the saltiest crew members get violently ill – getting seasick is a real possibility.”

鲍文最近在美国加利福尼亚海岸附近视察了NASA最新一次的猎户座回收试验。"飞船没有龙骨架,没有自己的推进器,只能在海里翻滚。如风平浪静,海上漂浮也很有趣,"他说,"我常年跟大海打交道,看到过很多老海兵都会严重犯恶心——晕船真的不少见。"

Because Orion is so heavy, the navy can’t use helicopters to lift the capsule onto a ship. Although after weeks – maybe months or years away – the crew will be desperate to leave the spacecraft, they might have to wait inside to minimise the danger of anyone drowning while trying to scramble out.

猎户座飞船很重,所以海军没法用直升飞机把太空舱吊到船上。虽然经过几周,也许是数月或数年的太空旅行后,宇航员们会超级想离开飞船,但他们也许还是得在里面等一等,减少自己爬出来时溺水的危险。

“Ultimately this vehicle is going to be in space for years. If we go to Mars, the astronauts’ physical condition is going to be very different to earlier programmes,” says Bowen. “So, the question becomes when do you get the crew out? Do you get them out early when they’re floating in the ocean or do you want to drag them into the well deck of a ship and get them out on what’s effectively dry land?”

"这艘飞船最终要在太空里飞好几年。如果我们去火星,宇航员的身体状况将会和早期计划时有很大的不同,"鲍文说,"所以,问题就变成你什么时候把宇航员拉出来,是早在他们漂在海上时就把他们弄出来,还是先把太空舱拖到船甲板上再让他们出来,或还是把他们弄到陆地上再说?"

Orion was conceived more than 10 years ago but – with the newly defined Nasa goal of returning to the Moon – the programme is finally starting to come together. With the SLS rocket also taking shape, and with testing well advanced on both the launcher and spacecraft, it’s a reasonable bet that astronauts will take their maiden flight by 2025.

猎户座计划的构想产生于10年前,不过要到NASA最新确定重返月球的目标,这个计划才最终开始实施。随着SLS火箭的成型,以及发射器和飞船的测试都取得良好进展,我们大可期待2025年宇航员能开始他们的首航。

“Last week they started the welding on the first spacecraft that’s going to carry humans beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in 50 years,” says Bowen. “It’s being built – it’s real hardware, that’s exciting.”

"上周,第一艘飞船的焊接开始了。这可是50年来将首次把人类送到近地轨道以上,"鲍文说,"飞船正在建造,是真的硬件,激动啊。"

Despite the discomfort, danger and seasickness, Bowen would love to fly in the Orion spacecraft he’s helped develop. So, what are the chances?

尽管有不适、危险和晕船,鲍文还是很愿意搭乘这艘他协助研发的猎户座飞船。那么,他的机会大么?

“Who knows,” he says, diplomatically. “I’m in the astronaut office, my name’s still on the list, I’ve been around for a while… but I still feel good!”

"谁知道呢,"他很圆滑地说,"我现在在宇航员办公室工作,但我的名字还在候选名单里,而且也参与过一段时间……无论如何我觉得自己还能行!"

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