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先锋号:仍然在轨运行的世界最早科学卫星

更新时间:2017/11/1 19:49:08 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

The world's oldest scientific satellite is still in orbit
先锋号:仍然在轨运行的世界最早科学卫星

From his desk at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, space debris analyst Tim Flohrer keeps track of the 23,000 or so catalogued objects currently orbiting the Earth. They range from spacecraft and satellites – some working, most not – to discarded rocket stages and fragmented space hardware. All of them the result of 60 years of space exploration.

在位于德国达姆施塔特(Darmstadt)欧洲空间运行中心(European Space Operations Centre)的办公室,空间碎片专家蒂姆·福楼赫尔(Tim Flohrer)对约23,000个目前围绕地球轨道运行的编目对象进行跟踪分析。这些跟踪对象包括航天器和卫星,其中一些仍在服役,还有些则已废弃不用,此外还包括被丢弃的子火箭以及零碎的空间硬件等。所有这一切都是60年空间探索的结果。

Using radar data from the US Space Surveillance Network (also, primarily, the country’s early warning system) and observations from optical telescopes, Flohrer helps ensure none of this space junk puts operational spacecraft at risk.

通过由美国太空监视网(US Space Surveillance Network)(主要充当美国的预警系统)传输的雷达数据和从光学望远镜观测到的资料,福楼赫尔要确保这些空间垃圾不会令运行中的航天器处于危险之中。

Before we speak, I’ve asked him to check on object 1958-002B, also known as Vanguard 1. Launched in March 1958, this grapefruit-sized shiny metal sphere was boosted into a high elliptical orbit. And it’s still there, passing between 650 and 3,800km (406 to 2,375 miles) from the Earth.

在我们谈话之前,我请他检查了一下编号为1958-002B的观测对象,也就是我们所知道的先锋1号(Vanguard 1)卫星。1958年3月发射时,这个葡萄柚大小的闪亮金属球体被送到一个高椭圆率轨道。如今,它仍然在那里,以650至3,800公里(406至2,375英里)的距离围绕地球运行。

“The earlier satellites, such as Sputnik, have all re-entered the atmosphere,” says Flohrer. “But I estimate that Vanguard 1 will remain in orbit for several hundred, if not a thousand years.”

福楼赫尔说:"早期的卫星,例如斯普特尼克(Sputnik),都已经重新进入了大气层。但我估计,先锋1号将继续留在轨道上,如果不是上千年,那也将会还有几百年。"

Conceived by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in 1955, Vanguard was to be America’s first satellite programme. The Vanguard system consisted of a three-stage rocket designed to launch a civilian scientific spacecraft. The rocket, satellite and an ambitious network of tracking stations would form part of the US contribution to the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year. This global collaboration of scientific research involved 67 nations, including both sides of the Iron Curtain.

先锋号卫星由美国海军研究实验室(NRL)于1955年构思,是美国首个卫星项目。先锋系统包括一颗三级火箭,其目的是发射一颗民用航天器。火箭、卫星和宏大的跟踪站网络将成为美国对1957-58年国际地球物理年(International Geophysical Year)献礼的一部分。这一国际性科研合作涉及67个国家,包括铁幕(Iron Curtain)两方的国家。

“It wasn’t a space race,” says NRL Historian, Angelina Callahan. “The US was always forthright in terms of launch and intended purposes for the satellite but the Soviets held their cards closer to their chest.”

"这并非是一场太空竞赛," 美国海军研究实验室历史学家安吉丽娜·卡拉汉(Angelina Callahan)说。"美国不会隐瞒卫星的发射和预期目的,而苏联总是试图保密。"

So, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik on 4 October 1957, it came as a shock. “A lot of the disappointment of Sputnik [for the US satellite team] was from the fact that their partners in this international partnership were not telling them they were sending a satellite up,” says Callahan.

因此,当苏联在1957年10月4日发射斯普特尼克时,全世界可谓猝不及防。卡拉汉说:"美国卫星研究团队对斯普特尼克1号卫星有着诸多失望,因为在这一国际合作关系中,他们的合作伙伴并未告诉他们要发射一颗卫星。"

“There was tremendous fear generated by Sputnik,” says Tom Lassman, curator of Cold War rockets at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. An identical “flight backup” of the Vanguard 1 satellite is on display at the Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport.

位于华盛顿特区的美国航空航天博物馆(National Air and Space Museum)冷战火箭策展人汤姆·拉斯曼(Tom Lassman)表示:"斯普特尼克造成了巨大的恐惧。"在该馆位于杜勒斯机场(Dulles Airport)附近的乌德沃尔哈齐中心(Udvar-Hazy Center),展示了与先锋1号卫星相同的"飞行备份"。

“Sputnik made military leaders realise the Soviet Union could hit us with a missile.” In the weeks that followed the Soviet launch, pressure from the Eisenhower White House mounted on the Navy team to launch a US satellite as soon as possible.

"斯普特尼克的成功发射让军事领导人意识到,苏联可能会通过导弹袭击我们。"在苏联发射卫星后的几周内,艾森豪威尔政府向美国海军施压,要求他们尽快发射一颗美国卫星。

On 6 December 1957, what had originally been planned as a further incremental test of Vanguard Test Vehicle 3 (TV3) became a major public event. Whereas the Soviets only announced Sputnik after it had successfully reached orbit, politicians, senior military figures and the world’s media gathered at Cape Canaveral, Florida for the US launch.

1957年12月6日,原本计划作为先锋3号测试车(TV3)进一步进行的加成测试成为了一次重要的公开事件。苏联是在斯普特尼克卫星成功达到预定轨道才向世界宣布的,但在美国发射卫星时,政界,高级军事人物以及全世界的媒体都聚集在佛罗里达州的卡纳维拉尔角(Cape Canaveral)。

After a series of countdown delays, at 11:44, the Vanguard rocket lifted from the launch pad. A few seconds later, someone in the control room shouted: "Look out! Oh God, no!" as the rocket rose four feet in the air and crashed back to the ground in a ball of flame. The nose cone was thrown clear – the Vanguard satellite still beeping. (You can read a full account of the disaster in this Nasa report).

在经历了一系列倒计时延误之后,当地时间上午11:44,先锋号火箭从发射台上腾空升起。几秒后,控制室有人喊道:"注意!哦,天呐,不!"当火箭在空中升起4英尺后,瞬时化作一团火焰坠毁在地面。前锥体被抛了出来——此时先锋号卫星仍在发出哔哔声。

The New York Times described the explosion as a “blow to US prestige”, Senator Lyndon Johnson called it “humiliating”. Others were even less diplomatic – newspapers dubbing the US satellite variously “flopnik”, “kaputnik” and “stayputnik”.

《纽约时报》"将这次爆炸描述为"对美国声望的打击",参议员林登·约翰逊(Lyndon Johnson)称之为"令人羞辱"。其他一些描述则更为直白——一些报纸将这颗美国卫星虐称为"flopnik","kaputnik"和"stayputnik"。

For the NRL team, it really wasn’t fair. “There’s a lot of failure in a successful research and development process,” says Callahan. “During the course of these failures, they developed a very good system.”

对于美国海军研究实验室团队来说,这样的报道确实有失公允。 卡拉汉说:"成功的研发过程包含了很多失败。而正是在这些失败的过程中,他们开发出了一套非常棒的系统。"

Ex-Nazi rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, who had long been pushing to launch something – anything – into orbit, seized the opportunity. With backing from the US Army, he had been developing the Jupiter rocket – an evolution of his V2 ballistic missile.

前纳粹火箭先驱韦恩赫尔·冯·布劳恩(Wernher von Braun)长期以来一直在推动将物体送入轨道的火箭发射。他抓住了这一次机遇。在美军的支持下,他一直致力于开发木星火箭——他所研发的V2弹道导弹的改进版。

“The priority was to get something up as quickly as possible,” says Lassman.

拉斯曼说:"当务之急是尽快成功完成发射。"

On 31 January 1958, one of von Braun’s Jupiter launchers blasted Explorer 1 – a satellite designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in just three months – into orbit. America’s first satellite was fitted with a cosmic ray detector to measure the space radiation environment. Designed by James Van Allen of the University of Iowa, the instrument revealed a belt of charged particles trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field, which became known as the Van Allen Belts.

1958年1月31日,冯·布劳恩的木星发射器成功发射了探险者1号卫星,并将其送入轨道,这是由位于加利福尼亚州帕萨迪纳(Pasadena)的喷气推进实验室(Jet Propulsion Laboratory)在短短3个月内设计并建造的卫星。美国的这一首颗卫星装有用于测量空间辐射环境的宇宙射线探测器。该仪器由爱荷华大学(University of Iowa)的詹姆斯·范艾伦(James Van Allen)设计,揭示了被地球磁场捕获的带状粒子,被称为范艾伦辐射带。

Finally, on 17 March 1958, it was the Navy’s turn. Under clear skies, NRL’s Vanguard rocket carried Vanguard 1 into orbit. The tiny spacecraft was soon sending back its first radio signals. In fact, because it was the first satellite powered by solar cells, the spacecraft was still transmitting data until 1965. Explorer 1 only lasted a few months.

1958年3月17日,终于轮到了美国海军的发射。在晴朗的天空下,美国海军研究实验室的先锋号火箭将先锋1号卫星送入轨道。这颗微型航天器很快就发回了第一个无线电信号。事实上,由于它是第一颗由太阳能电池供电的卫星,所以航天器一直在传输数据,直到1965年。而探险者1号仅仅维持了几个月。

Although not the first satellite, Vanguard 1 was still a remarkable achievement. As well as proving the technology of a new launcher system, the ground station network and solar cells, the satellite showed how our planet bulges out around the equator. Equipped with an instrument to measure atmospheric density, it provided the first-ever measurements of the Earth’s tenuous outer atmosphere and an estimate of the number of micrometeorites surrounding the planet – all vital information for future spacecraft. As a military-funded project, this also fed into calculations for the accuracy of ICBM trajectories.

虽然不是第一颗卫星,但先锋1号的成功发射依然是一项了不起的成就。除了很好地证明了新的发射系统、地面站网络和太阳能电池的技术外,该卫星还显示了地球在赤道周围隆起的情况。它配备了一台测量大气密度的仪器,从而提供了对地球稀薄的外部大气的首次测量和对地球周围微陨石数量的估计——这些信息对未来的航天器都是至关重要的。作为军事资助的项目,这也为准确计算洲际导弹(ICBM)的轨迹提供了数据。

Not only is Vanguard 1 still in orbit, its legacy lives on. The rocket system forms the basis for the Delta launch vehicle, one of the world’s most successful launchers. Long term tracking of the satellite continues to help scientists understand the influence of the Earth’s atmosphere on satellites and how orbits decay over time.

先锋1号不仅仅依然运行在轨道上,其技术传承也延续至今。该火箭系统构成了世界上最成功的发射器之一——德尔塔(Delta)运载火箭的基础。对这颗卫星的长期跟踪继续帮助科学家了解地球大气对卫星的影响以及轨道随时间的变化。

Perhaps most importantly, Vanguard 1 revealed the potential of satellites on which we’re all now dependent.

或许最重要的是,先锋1号揭示了我们现在所依赖的卫星的巨大潜力。

“The NRL produced a classified report talking about the satellites the US Navy would need in future decades,” says Callahan. “It included weather, navigation, communication and reconnaissance satellites and the report closed with all the science that would be needed to make those systems viable.”

卡拉汉说:"美国海军研究实验室编写了一份关于美国海军未来几十年需要的卫星的绝密报告,其中包括天气、导航、通信和侦察卫星,报告涉及了要使这些系统能够可靠运行的所有技术。"

Sixty years on, that science and those predictions have become reality. The satellite that helped make this possible, and the team behind it, deserve to be remembered.

60年来,当初设想的技术和预测都已经成为现实。助力推动这一切实现的这颗卫星,以及其背后的团队值得铭记。

“It’s extraordinary,” says Lassman. “We not only have an artefact in the museum, we have one flying around in space – it’s living history.”

拉斯曼说:"这是非常了不起的,我们不仅在博物馆里有一颗人造卫星,我们还有一颗卫星正在太空中运行——这是鲜活的历史。"

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