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美宇航局决定太空维修发现号
Updated:2005-08-04 13:42
NASA orders risky spacewalk to repair heat shield

美宇航局决定太空维修发现号

美宇航局决定太空维修发现号

Astronaut Steve Robinson of the U.S. works with a digital camera in the payload bay of shuttle Discovery during his spacewalk with Soichi Noguchi of Japan (unseen) August 1, 2005.

Determined not to lose another space shuttle and crew, NASA on Monday decided to send one of Discovery's astronauts on a risky spacewalk to the ship's fragile underside to smooth protruding fibers in the heat shield.

The task of removing protruding material from the space shuttle that could theoretically generate dangerous heat on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere will be added to a third previously scheduled spacewalk on Wednesday.

"This is the new NASA. If we cannot prove that it's safe, than we don't want to go there," deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale told reporters at Mission Control in Houston.

The second spacewalk of the first shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia disaster was completed on Monday, with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and NASA's Steve Robinson replacing a failed gyroscope at the International Space Station.

Discovery does not appear to have suffered the sort of damage to its heat shield that caused Columbia to break up over Texas on Feb 1, 2003, as the shuttle came in to land.

But NASA engineers do not know enough about how the two bits of material on Discovery could affect thermal and aerodynamic forces as the vehicle plunges at 22 times the speed of sound through the atmosphere on re-entry. They both stick out about an inch (2.5 cm) from the smoothly tiled surface of the ship's belly.

"The bottom line is there is large uncertainty because nobody has a very good handle on aerodynamics at that altitude and at those speeds," Hale said.

Columbia was destroyed and its seven astronauts killed because of heat shield damage on the ship's wing caused by foam falling off the fuel tank during launch.

After the accident, NASA adopted new procedures, spent $1 billion on safety upgrades and built equipment to inspect the shuttle while it is in orbit.

But Discovery's tank also shed large pieces of foam, prompting NASA to postpone future flights until the tank is repaired. 

(Agencies)

美国宇航局已经决定不能再失去一架航天飞机,也不能再让宇航员命丧太空。因此,本周一(8月1日),美国宇航局决定派一名“发现”号上的宇航员冒险进行一次太空行走,到机身脆弱的下腹部去,将隔热瓦上突起的填充材料修复平整。

从理论上讲,当航天飞机再次进入地球大气层时,机身上突起的材料会产生大量热量,对航天飞机造成危险。因此,美国宇航局不得不把切除这些突出的填充材料的任务加入到早已计划好的、将于本周三进行的第三次太空行走之中。

“这才算是全新的美国宇航局。如果我们不能保证航天飞行的安全,我们就不会让航天飞机进入太空,”航天飞机飞行任务副总管维恩·黑尔在位于休斯敦的地面控制中心接受记者采访时说。

本周一,“发现”号宇航员完成了一次太空行走。日本宇航员野口宗千和美国宇航局的斯蒂芬·罗宾逊更换了国际空间站中一个失灵的陀螺仪。这是自2003年“哥伦比亚”号悲剧发生以来首次飞行任务中的第二次太空行走。

从目前看来,“发现”号的隔热板并没有受到类似“哥伦比亚”号曾受到的损坏。“哥伦比亚”号在发射升空时,其隔热板曾受到损坏,2003年2月1日,航天飞机重返地球大气层时在得克萨斯州上空爆炸解体。

不过,美国宇航局的工程师们还不能确定,当“发现”号航天飞机以22倍于音速的速度再次经过地球大气层时,机身上的这两块材料会在热量和空气动力方面产生怎样的影响。它们从航天飞机光滑的、覆盖着隔热瓦的腹部突出了将近1英寸(约合2.5厘米)。

“关键是这其中存在着很大的不确定性,因为谁也无法在这样的高度和这样的速度下很好地完成对这两个凸起的气动分析。”黑尔表示。

“哥伦比亚”号航天飞机发射升空时,从其燃料箱上脱落的一块泡沫材料击中了机翼上的隔热板,最终导致航天飞机解体爆炸,七名宇航员丧生。

自那次事故之后,美国宇航局采取了新的生产工艺,斥资10亿美元改进安全措施,建造了新的装置以监测在轨道上运行的航天飞机。

但是,这一次仍有大块的泡沫材料从“发现”号的油箱脱落,这使美宇航局推迟了未来的发射计划,直到油箱得到完全修复为止。

(中国日报网站译)

 

Vocabulary:

spacewalk: 太空行走,在航天舱外的活动

protrude: to jut out; project (突出;伸出)

gyroscope: 陀螺仪,回转仪

aerodynamics: 空气动力学

 

 

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