There have been plenty of successful space missions over the years, and they’ve accomplished
some amazing things.
比如成功登月 把漫游者号送去火星 甚至对冥王星进行了一次近距离探测飞行
We’ve been to the Moon, we’ve sent rovers to Mars, and we’ve even done a flyby of pluto.
Not to mention the International Space Station orbiting Earth right now.
But there were more missions that could have happened.
Ones that were researched and developed and could have had a huge impact on the history of space travel.
If they hadn’t been canceled, that is.
Take Mars, for example.
Lately, NASA’s been working on plans for the first manned mission to Mars.
But what if we’d gone there in the 1980s?
Once NASA had sent humans to the Moon, sending people to Mars seemed like the natural next step.
But our rockets weren’t really up for the job.
Most of the rockets at the time burned chemicals like kerosene and oxygen.
Even though these rockets were great for orbital or lunar missions, they just didn’t have
enough power for a trip to Mars, which is more than 50 million kilometers longer than
the journey to the moon.
So NASA started Project Rover, to create rockets powered by nuclear reactors.
Project Rover使用了一种类似氢的反应液 它能够轻易地和大多数
Project Rover would use a reactive fluid like hydrogen — which combines easily with most
其他元素混合 通过反应器将其加热成电离气体 即等离子气体
other elements — and use a reactor to heat it into an ionized gas, aka plasma.
The plasma would then be ejected from the rocket, creating thrust to push the rocket
Traditional chemical rockets also eject gas for thrust, but with much less force than
a nuclear reactor.
In 1961, this nuclear rocket research became part of a new program that came this close
to taking us to Mars: the NERVA engine.
Early NERVA tests were so successful that a mission to send 12 people to Mars was suggested
The mission would split crew between two rockets, each powered by three NERVA engines, and would
take nine months to reach the planet.
Engine tests continued to go really well, and soon the NERVA engine could meet almost
every NASA requirement!
…but then the project was canceled.
In 1972, Congress decided that a Mars mission would be too expensive and would extend the
pricey space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
所以 几乎在50年之后的今天 我们仍在等待着登陆火星的第一人
So, almost 50 years later, we’re still waiting for the first people to land on Mars.
Also during the 1960s, the Soviet Union started working on a huge rocket to send crews to
Mars and Venus: the N1.
N1计划发射TMK号 这名字象征着俄罗斯的一句习语 大致意思为
The N1 would launch the TMK, which stands for a Russian phrase that basically means
Heavy Interplanetary Spaceship — a very accurate name.
The TMK was supposed to take three cosmonauts to fly by each of our next-door neighbor planets.
Besides having crew quarters, the TMK would also have an instrumental module that doubled
as a radiation shield.
It was even supposed to have artificial gravity caused by the ship’s rotation.
It was way ahead of its time!
A 2-3 year mission to Mars was planned for 1971, with a Venus mission some time afterward.
Cosmonauts wouldn’t land or anything, but they’d fly by the planets and drop unmanned
probes to the surface.
But the TMK, and its potential missions were abandoned once NASA became more involved in
the Apollo program.
Instead of aiming for Mars and Venus, the Soviet Union started using the N1 to try and
land on the moon, and plans for TMK were canceled by 1966.
不幸的是 N1同样也进行的不是很成功 在20世纪70年代取消N1前
Unfortunately, the N1 wasn’t too successful either, with four failed launches before the
program was canceled in the 1970s.
现在 虽然我们还没有派飞行员另外的星球 美国是第一个在NASA的空间站 -天空实验室号上生活的国家
Now, even though we haven’t sent a crew another planet yet, Americans first started
living in space aboard NASA’s Skylab, which launched in the 1970s.
Skylab was pretty small and could handle only three astronauts at a time.
So it wasn’t like the International Space Station, which, since 2000, has typically
had 3-6 people living on board at a time.
But something like the ISS could have existed a lot sooner.
在20世纪80年代 继天空试验号之后 计划建造更大的
In the 1980s, after Skylab, there were plans for a much larger, all-American space station
named Space Station Freedom.
Because what else do you call an American space station?
The plan was to build the station from 1994 to 1997, with a crew living there and doing
scientific research starting in 1995.
But when NASA sent their first budget proposal to Congress, the government was pretty upset
about the $14.5 billion price tag.
So the plans were downsized, but the conflicts continued.
在1987年 全美号这一想法被搁置了为了发展一些花费少的项目 欧洲航天局
In 1987, the “all-American” idea was dropped to help lower costs, and the European Space
Agency was brought in to add a module to the station.
But NASA and the ESA had a hard time agreeing on what Europe’s role was.
最重要的是 科学家们并不喜欢新的自由号计划 因为预算被削减了导致
On top of that, scientists disliked the new plans for Freedom because the budget cuts
had reduced its science capabilities.
By 1988, they’d finally seemed to reach an agreement:
美国 加拿大 欧盟 日本 将共享自由号空间站
The U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan would all share lab space on Freedom, and the station
would have a rotating crew of six American and two international astronauts.
But more logistics and budgetary problems came up, and despite years of planning and
development, Space Station Freedom was canceled in 1990.
The International Space Station was approved just a few years later, though, so we did
get a brand-new space station.
The history of space travel could’ve been a lot different if the 1980s Mars mission,
TMK, and Freedom had succeeded.
But that’s okay.
虽然它们没有成功 但我们已经进行了几百次成功的飞行任务 探索了
Even without them, we’ve launched hundreds of other amazing missions, explored strange
new worlds, and boldly gone where no one has gone before.
And we have plenty more missions to look forward to!
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