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太空度假12天 你想住空間站酒店嗎?

Would you want to stay in a space hotel?
太空度假12天 你想住空間站酒店嗎?

It was intended to set the travel world on fire: Aurora Station, the world’s first in-orbit hotel. The official announcement took place last April during the Space 2.0 Conference in San Jose, California. Housed aboard a structure about the size of a large private jet, guests would soar 200 miles above the Earth’s surface, enjoying epic views of the planet and the northern and southern lights.

世界上第一個圍繞地球軌道的太空酒店“極光空間站”(Aurora Space Station),就是為了引爆旅游世界。去年4月,在加利福尼亞州圣何塞(San Jose)舉行的太空 2.0 大會(Space 2.0 Conference)上,該酒店的官方通告正式發布。在這個大小和大型私人噴氣式飛機差不多的結構體里面,旅客可以在地表200英里之上遨游太空,盡攬這顆星球的壯麗景色以及南北極光。

A jaunt won’t be cheap: the 12-day-journey aboard Aurora Station, scheduled to be in orbit by 2022, starts at a cool $9.5m (£7.3m) per person. Nevertheless, the company says the waiting list is booked nearly seven months ahead.

但這是花銷不菲的旅行,預定在2022年進入軌道運行的極光空間站,一趟12天的旅程起價每人高達950萬美元(730萬英鎊)。不過公司表示,預定入住的旅客人數已經排滿了7個月。

“Part of our experience is to give people the taste of the life of a professional astronaut,” says Frank Bunger, founder and chief executive officer of Orion Span, the firm which is behind Aurora Station. “But we expect most guests will be looking out the window, calling everyone they know, and should guests get bored, we have what we call the ‘holodeck,’ a virtual reality experience. In it you can do anything you want; you can float in space, you can walk on the Moon, you can play golf.”

法蘭克‧巴格(Frank Bunger)是開發極光空間站的公司 Orion Span 的創始人兼執行官。他表示:“我們極光空間站的體驗其中之一是要讓人們體會職業宇航員的生活,但是我們期待大多數旅客會望向太空酒店的窗外,并與每一個他們認識的人通話;如果旅客們玩倦了,我們還有一個稱為‘全甲板’的虛擬實景體驗。此時,你可以做任何你想做的事情,比如你可以在太空中漂浮,或在月球上漫步,你還可以打高爾夫球。”

Think of Aurora Station, which concluded a crowdfunding campaign in early February, as “astronaut-lite”, a luxurious descendant of the austere International Space Station (ISS). There will be some similarities: in both, visitors (four guests with two staff) will nap in sleeping bags attached to the superstructure, the food will be freeze-dried, and all guests will have to go through a vigorous pre-launch health screening. The journey to Aurora alone means being subjected to 3Gs of gravitational force.

把極光空間站想象成與國際空間站(ISS)想象類似,規模較小但卻更加豪華奢侈,相似之處在于:極光空間站的訪客(4位旅客配兩名工作人員)也是睡在的綁緊的睡袋里,吃的是冷凍干燥食物,所有旅客都得經過發射升空前的嚴格的健康篩檢,而前往極光空間站的旅程本身也要受引力的 3G 所制約。

Aside from gazing out at the stars and back at Earth, it is expected that Aurora visitors will spend some of their stay tending micro-gravity experiments such as growing food, as is currently done by crews on the ISS. But there will also be some differences: water will be imported with each round of guests, rather than being processed from their own urine.

除了可以觀賞恒星并回望地球之外,可以預料的是,極光空間站酒店的訪客將會用一部分時間來跟進微重力實驗,比如種植作物,就像現在工作人員在國際空間站中所做的那樣。但也會有一些區別:水會由每一批旅客從地球帶過來,而不是如國際空間站的宇航員那樣用自己的尿液進行加工處理。

Many in the science community see this as the inevitable next great leap for mankind. But there is that age-old adage of looking before you leap; to say that civilian space travel is in its embryonic stage is almost overstating how advanced it is. Even as the media gushed over Aurora, the experts were far more cautious.

科學界中的許多人認為,這是人類接下來不可避免的偉大跨越。但是古話常說要三思而后行;以目前技術水平來看,就算是說民用太空旅行尚處于萌芽階段也幾乎是一種夸大之詞,過高估計了這一技術的先進程度。雖然媒體大肆吹捧極光空間站酒店,但專家們卻對此謹慎得多。<紐約時報中英文網 http://www.zvkdrb.live/>

“I mean, Aurora Station is a nice gadget,” says Christian Laesser of the Research Center for Tourism and Transport at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. “But if it will be implemented remains to be seen.”

瑞士圣加侖大學(University of St Gallen)旅游及交通研究中心的萊塞爾(Christian Laesser)這樣表示,“我的意思是,極光空間站是一個很棒的玩意兒,但是這個項目能否實現還是個未知數。”

“At the moment space tourism is a field where reality, hoaxes, and science fiction are mixed up in such a way that it makes difficult to distinguish between reality and wishes,” adds Robert A Goehlich of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who gives the only class in the world dedicated to space tourism.

“眼下的太空旅游領域,現實、騙局和科幻小說魚龍混雜,這令人們很難辨別現實與愿望,”安柏瑞德航空大學(Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)的格利希(Robert A Goehlich)補充說。他在該大學講授世界上唯一的太空旅游課程。

Both agree that space tourism is already a thing; it began in 2001 when American Dennis Tito paid the Russian Space Agency a reported $20m for a seven-day visit to the ISS. Some countries are already laying the groundwork for the future of the industry; 10 commercial spaceports are already taking shape across United States, for instance. Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and arguably Aurora Station’s biggest cheerleader, points out the USA has regulations on the books in the form of the Commercial Space Launch Competitive Act, passed in 2016, that addresses issues such as liability, indemnification, responsible parties, and risk.

他倆一致認為太空旅游已經確有其事。太空旅游始于 2001 年,當年美國人提托(Dennis Tito)支付給俄羅斯空間站(Russian Space Agency)2000萬美元到國際空間站旅行了7天。一些國家已經在為這一行業的未來做準備工作;例如,10個商用太空船發射降落場已經在美國多地開始動工興建。斯塔默(Eric Stallmer)是商業航天聯盟(Commercial Spaceflight Federation)的主席,也可以說是極光空間站最大的支持者。他指出,美國已經以《商業太空發射競爭法》(Commercial Space Launch Competitive Act)的形式列明了規章制度,該法案于 2016 年獲得通過,解決了太空旅游的債務、賠償、責任方和風險等方面的問題。

Likewise, neither Goehlich and Laesser are naysayers, but both take a wait-and-see approach to whether civilian space tourism firms can deliver, and how. What is still to be determined are the safety and engineering standards for a civilian space vehicle. Bunger describes Aurora Station, with its newer technology, simplified systems, and smaller area (thus avoiding more micrometeor collisions), as safer than the ISS, but even he admits it won’t be insured until the moment it lifts off.

格利希和萊塞爾兩個人都不是愛唱反調的人,但是兩人都對民用太空旅游公司能否實現計劃,以及如何實現抱持觀望態度。仍然有待確定的是民用航天器的安全和工程標準。巴格表示,采用更新的技術、更簡化的系統以及更小面積(因此可避免更多的微流星體碰撞)的極光空間站比國際空間站更為安全,但即便如此他還是承認,不到發射升空的那一刻,沒有人能夠為此做出保證。

But that raises an even bigger unaddressed questions – where will Aurora Station be launched from and where will guests be retrieved from once they return to Earth’s surface.<-->紐約時報中英文網 http://www.zvkdrb.live<-->

但這也引出了一些更大的而且尚未解決的問題,即極光空間站要在哪里發射,以及旅客們返回地表后會在何處被接收。

Moreover, this is an industry where setting dates is a recipe for disappointment. Virgin Galactic, which had its first successful to-space-and-back test flight in December, is still nine years behind schedule, SpaceX and Blue Origin are still testing their vehicles, and XCOR Aerospace declared bankruptcy in 2017. There is a very real possibility that older candidates on the various waiting lists may “age out” of the running, or develop health conditions that exclude them. The Aurora Station module itself is not even set to be constructed until later this year.

此外,在這一行業里,設立確定的日子無異是為了讓人深感失望。維珍銀河(Virgin Galactic)在去年12月首次進行了成功的太空往返試飛,但進度仍然晚了9年。美國太空探索技術公司(SpaceX)和藍源公司(Blue Origin)仍在測試飛行器;而 XCOR 航空航天公司(XCOR Aerospace)則在 2017 年宣布破產。極有可能的是,各種等候名單上年紀長一點的候選旅客可能會因為年齡漸長而退出,或者因健康狀況被排除在外。極光空間站的艙體本身在今年晚些之前甚至都可能不會動工修建。

Then there are the health issues. In the case of Aurora Station, people suffering from claustrophobia, even slightly, should think twice about a booking a room in a property 43.5ft long by 14.1ft in diameter (it’s not like you can open a window). Because objects, including the fluids in the body, tend to rise in low gravity, guests should prepare for some unflatteringly moonfaced selfies, with the added bonus of nausea as the stomach adjusts to weightlessness.

接下來的就是健康問題。拿極光空間站來說,艙體長度達43.5 英尺、直徑達 14.1 英尺,,而且窗戶并不像你想象的那樣可以打開,罹患幽閉恐怖癥,甚至輕微幽閉恐怖癥的人們對此應該三思而后行。原因在于,包括人體體液在內的物體往往會在低重力環境中往上升,因此旅客們自拍時應該有心理準備,因為體液上涌,你自拍結果將是有損形象的“滿月臉”。此外,還有一個額外的好處要送給旅客,那就是胃部因適應失重環境而產生的反胃,頭暈和嘔吐。

Long-term exposure to zero-g weakens the bones and changes the structure of the eyeball radically enough to affect sight; being just 12 days in antigravity means guests will not have to worry, although staff definitely will. Happily, microgravity does not adversely affect menstruation (although issues with storage of sanitary items and limited washing water may prompt female astronauts to go on the pill). Because of the kinetics involved, Nasa requires astronauts to abstain from sex, which may take some of the romance out of such a trip.

長期暴露在零重力環境中會削弱骨骼,并從根本上改變眼球結構,程度之重足以影響視力;在反重力條件下只待12天的旅客則可不必擔心,盡管工作人員肯定會受影響。令人高興的是,微重力并不會對月經造成負面影響(盡管衛生用品存放和有限的洗滌用水等問題可能會促使女性宇航員服用藥丸)。由于所涉動力學的緣故,美國國家航空航天局要求宇航員禁絕性事,如此一來,這樣太空之旅也就少了一些羅曼蒂克。

More alarming are the charged particles entering the cabin that could potentially cause genetic damage; as insulated as space vehicles are, they are not fully proofed against such cosmic radiation. Astronauts in the past have reported seeing flashes of light, which researchers surmise are cosmic rays hitting the optic nerves or visual cortex in the brain.

更讓人害怕的是,進入太空艙的帶電粒子可能會損壞你的遺傳基因。盡管航天器處于隔離密閉狀態,但并不能完全抵抗這些宇宙射線。宇航員過去曾報道見過閃光,研究人員猜測這是宇宙射線沖擊到宇航員的視神經或者腦部視覺皮質所致。

“You cannot execute a space mission, in particular a commercial manned one, ‘a little bit’ or on a ‘let’s try and see if it works’ basis,” Goehlich warns. “You need safe operation of the spaceships, an environmentally friendly operation, and ultimately an economically profitable operation.”

格利希警告說,“這是一項太空任務,而且是商業載人太空任務,你不能抱持著‘我們試一下看能不能行’的這種態度。”格利希警告說,“你需要確保宇宙飛船的安全運營和環保運營,并最終成為有經濟效益的運營。”

But Laesser sees space tourism as a natural progression, noting that extreme environments have only slowed, but not impeded, exploration. He states, “If you go back 30 years ago, Antarctica was impossible, and now people are going to Antarctica. We have these new frontiers, space is just the latest one which might be open.”

但萊塞爾認為太空旅游是大勢所趨,并指出極端的環境只是延緩了這一探索,而并沒有阻止其探索。他表示,“如果你回到30年前,去南極洲是不可能的,但是現在很多人在去南極洲旅游。我們擁有了這些新的領域,太空只是最新出現的一個,而且它是可以開放的。”

Exactly when it will open, however, no-one is quite sure.

然而,太空到底何時會開放呢?沒人能夠確定。

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