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SpaceX重型火箭“星舰”第四次试飞成功

KENNETH CHANG

2024年6月7日

这张来自SpaceX直播的截屏显示,SpaceX星舰于2024年6月6日从美国得克萨斯州博卡奇卡的星际基地发射升空,进行了第四次试飞。 SpaceX, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SpaceX’s launch of its giant Starship rocket accomplished a set of ambitious goals on Thursday that Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, set out before the test flight, its fourth.

周四,SpaceX成功发射了重型火箭“星舰”,实现了公司首席执行官埃隆·马斯克在这次试飞前制定的一系列雄心勃勃的目标,这是该火箭的第四次试飞。

The flight, while not a perfect success, offered a sign that Mr. Musk’s vision of building the most powerful rocket ever and making it reusable could again transform a global space launch industry that his company already dominates. It is most likely encouraging for officials at NASA, which will use a version of Starship to take astronauts to the surface of the moon during its Artemis III mission, currently scheduled for late 2026.

虽然这次试飞并不完美,但它表明,马斯克制造迄今最大运载火箭,并让其能重复使用的愿景可能会再次改变全球航天发射行业,他的公司已在该行业占主导地位。对美国国家航空航天局(NASA)的官员来说,这可能是最令人鼓舞的消息,NASA将在完成“阿尔忒弥斯3号”任务时使用某种类型的“星舰”将宇航员送到月球表面,登月时间目前定在2026年底。

Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, offered his congratulations on X, the social media site that Mr. Musk owns.

NASA负责人比尔·尼尔森在社交媒体平台X上表达了祝贺,该平台也被马斯克拥有。

“We are another step closer to returning humanity to the Moon through #Artemis—then looking onward to Mars,” he wrote.

“我们向通过#阿尔忒弥斯让人类离重返月球又迈近了一步,然后向火星前进,”他写道。

The upper-stage Starship vehicle was lifted into space, coasted halfway around the world, survived the searing heat of re-entry and then made a water landing in the Indian Ocean, as planned.

“星舰”飞船位于火箭顶部,进入太空后,飞船绕地球飞行了半圈,经受住了重返大气层的高温烧灼,然后按计划溅落在印度洋。

During the descent, cameras on the spacecraft captured the colorful glow of gases heating up below it, At an altitude of above 30 miles, part of one of the steering flaps started falling apart, but it still held together. The view then became obstructed when debris cracked the camera lens.

在降落过程中,飞船上的摄像机捕捉到了下方的气体温度升高后发出的彩色光芒。在降到距海平面约5万米的高度时,飞船一个转向襟翼的一部分逐渐开始破损,但没有完全解体。接下来的视频拍摄因镜头被碎片击破受到了妨碍。

“The question is how much of the ship is left,” Kate Tice, one of the hosts of the SpaceX broadcast said.

“问题是飞船还剩下多大部分,”SpaceX直播节目的主持人之一凯特·泰斯说。

But real-time data continued to stream back, via SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites, to company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., all the way until the altitude was reported at 0 — back to the surface of the Indian Ocean.

尽管摄像机不再工作,但实时数据继续通过SpaceX的“星链”卫星互联网传回公司位于加利福尼亚州霍桑的总部,直到飞船报出了零海拔高度,也就是降到了印度洋面。

A final maneuver to flip Starship to a vertical position just before landing was commande.

溅落之前,飞船收到了翻转为垂直状态的命令。

“Despite loss of many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made it all the way to a soft landing in the ocean!” Mr. Musk wrote on X.

“尽管损失了许多陶瓷瓦片,襟翼也受到了损坏,但‘星舰’还是成功地在海上软溅落了!”马斯克在X上写道。

A crowd of onlooking SpaceX employees outside mission control, cheered wildly, seeing the outcome as a validation of the company’s break-it-then-fix-it approach to engineering.

在任务控制中心外,一群观看直播的SpaceX员工极为兴奋地欢呼雀跃起来,他们将这次成功视为确认了公司用“先创再修”(break-it-then-fix-it)方法进行工程设计的有效性。

Earlier in the flight, the rocket’s first stage, the giant Super Heavy booster with 33 engines, was also able to perform maneuvers that in the future would take it back to the launch site. For this flight, it made a simulated landing in the Gulf of the Mexico.

火箭的第一级,也就是带有33个发动机的超极重型助推器在飞行的早些时候也完成了一些操作,这些操作以后能让其重返发射场。在这次飞行中,它在墨西哥湾完成了模拟降落动作。

What is Starship and why is it important?

什么是“星舰”,它为什么重要?

With the Starship spaceship on top of what SpaceX calls a Super Heavy booster, the rocket system is, by pretty much every measure, the biggest and most powerful ever.

从各个方面来看,它都可以说是有史以来最大、最强有力的火箭系统,底部是SpaceX称为超极重型助推器的第一级,顶部是“星舰”飞船。

The rocket is the tallest ever built — 397 feet tall, or about 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, including the pedestal.

该火箭系统也是有史以来最高的,122米的高度比包括基座在内的自由女神塑像还高出约30米。

The rocket also has the most engines ever in a booster: The Super Heavy has 33 of SpaceX’s powerful Raptor engines sticking out of its bottom. As those engines lift Starship off the launchpad, they will generate 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle.

该火箭系统的发动机数量也是历史上最多的:底部的超级重型助推器有33个SpaceX的大功率“猛禽”发动机。这些发动机开足马力将“星舰”飞船从发射台推向太空时,能产生7590吨推力。

For Mr. Musk, Starship is really a Mars ship. He envisions a fleet of Starships carrying settlers to the Red Planet.

对马斯克来说,“星舰”实际上是一艘火星飞船。他展望着组建一支将定居者运往这颗红色星球的“星舰”飞船舰队。

For NASA, the vehicle is to be a lunar lander, carrying astronauts to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972.

对NASA来说,“星舰”将被用于登月任务,自1972年以来首次把宇航员送到月球表面上去。

In the near term, SpaceX also plans to use Starship to deploy the next generation of Starlink internet communication satellites.

从短期内,SpaceX还计划使用“星舰”来部署下一代“星链”通信卫星互联网。

An even more transformative feature of Starship is that it is designed to be entirely reusable. That capability has the potential to cut the cost of sending payloads into orbit — such that sending 100 tons to space one day might cost less than $10 million, Mr. Musk has predicted.

“星舰”的一个更具变革性的特征是,它是为完全可重复使用而设计的。这种能力有可能降低将有效载荷送入轨道的成本,这样的话,据马斯克估计,有朝一日可能用不到1000万美元的成本将100吨有效载荷送入太空。

06spacex starship 01 zlbk master1050 Eric Gay/Associated Press

What was SpaceX trying to accomplish with this flight?

SpaceX这次试飞的目标是什么?

A couple of weeks ago, after a successful launch rehearsal, Mr. Musk wrote on X that for this flight, “Primary goal is getting through max re-entry heating.”

在两周前的演练发射成功后,马斯克在X上写道,这次试飞的“主要目标是在重返时经受住最高温的烧灼。”

In other words, he did not want the vehicle to burn up.

换句话说,他不想看到飞行器烧毁。

During launch, Starship reaches orbital speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour while reaching an altitude of 145 miles. As the spacecraft belly-flops back into the atmosphere, it experiences temperatures up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

在发射过程中,“星舰”达到了超过每小时2.7万公里的轨道速度,飞行高度达到了232公里。随着航天器一头扎回大气层,它将经历超过1400摄氏度的高温。

On Thursday, Starship endured that heat, then landed in a remote part of the Indian Ocean. Another goal was to softly land the first stage, the Super Heavy booster, in the Gulf of Mexico.

周四,“星舰”经受住了这种高温的考验,然后溅落在印度洋的一个偏远水域。这次发射的另一个目标是让火箭的第一级,也就是超极重型助推器在墨西哥湾软溅落。

During future operational flights, both vehicles are to return to the launch site and to be caught in one piece by the launch tower. Those attempts are still in the future.

在未来的运营飞行中,两级火箭都将重返发射场,被发射塔完好无损地接住。这些尝试仍需要在未来进行。

What happened during the last flight?

上次试飞发生了什么?

06spacex starship 02 master1050
“星舰”曾在今年3月14日进行了第三次试飞。那次试飞与前两次一样,以飞船烧毁告终。

The previous launch in March for the first time reached speeds that were fast enough for Starship to enter orbit. The ascent included a successful new twist: hot-staging separation, when some of the second-stage engines ignited before the Super Heavy booster, or first stage, separated and dropped away.

在今年3月的上次发射中,“星舰”首次达到了足以进入轨道的速度。那次的上升过程包括了一个成功的新尝试:热分离,也就是在火箭的第一级——超级重型助推器还没有全部脱落时,第二级发动机就点火了。

The second-stage part of Starship accomplished some of its goals as it coasted in space, including opening and closing the spacecraft’s payload door and a demonstration of moving propellant between two tanks inside the vehicle.

作为第二级的“星舰”飞船在那次太空飞行中完成了部分目标,包括打开和关闭飞船的有效载荷舱门,演示将推进剂从飞船内部的一个燃料箱运到另一个燃料箱。

But while coasting at the highest point of its trajectory, Starship began rolling out of control. Cameras on board captured the orange glow of hot plasma beneath the spacecraft. Some 49 minutes after launching, it disintegrated, with communications lost at an altitude of 40 miles.

但在达到飞行轨道最高点时,星舰开始失控。飞船上的摄像机捕捉到了飞船下方炽热等离子体发出的橙光。飞船在发射后大约49分钟时解体,在海拔64公里的高度与地面失联。

Earlier in the flight, the Super Heavy booster was to simulate a landing over the Gulf of Mexico. But six of 13 engines used for that maneuver shut down early.

在那次飞行的前期,超极重型助推器本该在墨西哥湾完成模拟降落。但进行该操作的13台发动机中有六台提前熄火。

SpaceX blamed blockages in the flow of propellants as the most likely cause for losses of the Starship and the Super Heavy booster. The company said it had made changes to address those problems.

SpaceX将“星舰”和超极重型助推器失败的最可能原因归于推进剂的流动受阻。公司称已为解决这些问题改进了设计。

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