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“发现”号再次踏上回家之路
Updated:2005-08-11 13:33
Discovery to take another try at landing

“发现”号再次踏上回家之路

“发现”号再次踏上回家之路

Discovery, seen here, roared safely back to Earth after a tense first shuttle flight since the 2003 Columbia disaster and its crew pleaded for support for future space travel (AFP)

Low clouds kept shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven from making their much-anticipated return to Earth, and NASA vowed to bring the spacecraft down Tuesday in Florida, California or possibly even New Mexico.

"We will attempt to land somewhere," flight director LeRoy Cain said after Monday morning's two unsuccessful landing opportunities.

The delay disappointed the astronauts' families, who were waiting at Kennedy Space Center for their loved ones' return after nearly two stressful weeks in orbit.

Discovery's astronauts woke up Monday evening to The Beatles "Good Day Sunshine" and were ready to get back home.

It is the first shuttle flight since Columbia's catastrophic re-entry in 2003, and the mission experienced a series of problems that required emergency spacewalk repairs and constant engineering analysis.

More cloudy weather was expected at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday with a chance of rain, but it remained NASA's first choice for an early morning touchdown. Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert was the next choice, followed by the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the absolute last resort.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin insisted "there's no agony" associated with the one-day delay in getting Discovery home. Like other space agency officials, he was waiting for "wheels stop" on the runway before even thinking about celebrating.

Come Tuesday, "We're going to land one way or another, one place or another, and all we're talking about is where," Griffin said.

NASA prefers landing shuttles at the same place where it launches them, to avoid the several days and estimated $1 million in ferrying the spacecraft atop a modified jumbo jet back from the West Coast.

Discovery had enough power and supplies to stay in orbit until Wednesday, but NASA was holding out that option only if a technical problem arose that needed time to be resolved.

During the mission, the biggest setback was the loss of a 1-pound chunk of foam insulation from the fuel tank during the July 26 launch, the same problem that ended up destroying Columbia. NASA suspended future shuttle flights just one day after Discovery took off.  

(Agencies)

低沉的云层阻碍了“发现”号航天飞机和机上七名工作人员预期的返航,美国宇航局(NASA)誓言要在本周二让这架航天飞机重返地球,着陆地点可能在佛罗里达州、加利福尼亚州甚至是新墨西哥州。

“我们将尝试找个地方着陆。”这次飞行任务的主管莱罗伊·凯恩在错过了周一早上的两次降落机会后说。

计划的推迟让宇航员的家属们很失望,他们正在肯尼迪航天中心等待亲人在近两周艰苦的太空工作后能平安归来。

周一晚上,“发现”号上的宇航员们被“披头士”乐队的《阳光日安》唤醒,他们已经做好了回家的准备。

这是自2003年“哥伦比亚”号返回地球时发生惨剧以来美国的首次航天飞行,此次任务遭遇了一连串的麻烦,不得不进行紧急太空行走以检修故障,NASA一直在对故障原因展开工程学分析。

本周二,肯尼迪航天中心的云层预计会加厚,还有可能下雨,但它仍是NASA首选的凌晨着陆场。位于加利福尼亚州莫哈韦沙漠的爱德华兹空军基地是次选,新墨西哥州的白沙导弹靶场则是最后一步棋。

美国宇航局局长麦克尔·格里芬坚持认为,发现号推迟一天回家“并不令人懊恼”。和其他宇航局官员一样,他在等待“发现”号的轮子在跑道上“停止滑动”的那一刻的到来,至于庆祝活动他压根还没想。

“我们无论如何都要让航天飞机着陆,我们一直在讨论的就是在哪里降落,”格里芬周二说。

NASA倾向于让航天飞机在原来的发射场着陆,因为这样可以不用花几天时间把航天飞机放在一架改装过的巨型喷气式飞机上从西海岸运回,免去了大约100万美元的运输费用。

“发现”号有足够的能量和供给维持飞行到周三,但只有当需费时解决的技术问题出现时,NASA才会考虑这种选择。

在本次飞行任务中,最大的挫折无疑是在7月26日的发射过程中,飞机油箱掉落了一块一磅重的泡沫隔热材料,而当年“哥伦比亚”号正是毁于同样的问题。于是在“发现”号起飞的后一天,NASA推迟了之后的航天飞行。

(中国日报网站译)

 

Vocabulary:

stressful : 充满压力的

touchdown: 着地,降落

jumbo jet: 大型喷气式客机



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