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Forget the bravado — Elon Musk’s SpaceX achievement is stunning

来源:FT中文网    2018-02-09 06:51

        To follow Elon Musk’s Twitter feed on Tuesday as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off from its launch pad was to enter into the zany, geeky, mettlesome, and inspirational world of the South African-born tech entrepreneur.        私人太空公司SpaceX的猎鹰重型火箭(Falcon Heavy)周二从发射台升空时,关注埃隆•马斯克(Elon Musk)在Twitter上发的帖子就像进入了这位生于南非的科技企业家古怪、“极客范”、无畏而又鼓舞人心的世界。
        All through the day SpaceX’s founder kept his 19m followers updated on the flight profile of the company’s huge rocket and the delays to the countdown caused by excessive high-altitude winds.        这位SpaceX的创始人一整天都在向他的1900万粉丝实时播报该公司这枚巨型火箭的发射情况,以及因高空风速过大导致的发射倒计时延迟。
        Then, soon after the 27-engine rocket roared into space, he tweeted near-surreal footage of one of his red Tesla Roadster cars with a dummy astronaut strapped onboard orbiting the Earth. This brazen cross-promotion for the car company Mr Musk also founded was variously interpreted as one of the most expensive, or cheapest, mass advertising campaigns in history.        然后,在这枚搭载27台引擎的火箭轰鸣着进入太空后不久,他在Twitter上发布了一段超现实的画面:他的一辆红色特斯拉跑车Roadster绕着地球飞行,车里面坐着一具身穿宇航服的假人。此番对同样由马斯克创立的汽车公司的赤裸裸的交叉促销,被评价为历史上最昂贵、或最省的大型广告活动之一。
        “We’re doing OK for a bunch of monkeys. Humanity rocks!” Mr Musk tweeted.        “猴子出身的我们做得不错。人类棒极了!”马斯克发了一条这样的帖子。
        Adopting a more restrained tone in response to President Donald Trump, who was quick to send a congratulatory tweet, Mr Musk replied: “Thank you on behalf of SpaceX. An exciting future lies ahead!”        美国总统唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)很快便发推文表示祝贺,马斯克回复特朗普时使用了更为节制的语气:“代表SpaceX感谢您。一个令人兴奋的未来就在眼前!”
        Behind all the quirky bravado stands a stunning technological achievement.        所有这些奇特的造势背后是一项惊人的科技成就。
        The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket to be launched since the Saturn V programme took astronauts to the Moon. The dramatic and safe return of two of the Falcon Heavy’s three boosters was also a noteworthy feat, promising to cut the cost of future launches.        猎鹰重型火箭是自“土星5号”(Saturn V)将宇航员送上月球以来发射的推力最强大的火箭。安全回收猎鹰重型火箭三枚助推器中的两枚,也是一项值得关注的成就,这意味着未来发射成本有望降低。
        The success opens the way for a manned mission around the Moon by two paying astronauts, although SpaceX appears to be tiptoeing away from its original timetable that this would take place before the end of the year. It also marks a significant step towards Mr Musk’s ultimate ambition: to land on Mars. That mission, though, will depend on the success of SpaceX’s next rocket design, known with frat-boy humour as the BFR (or Big F***ing Rocket), due to be launched in the mid-2020s.        此次成功为下一步将两名旅客送上月球的载人任务开辟了道路,尽管SpaceX似乎正在偏离原定于今年底之前实现这一目标的时间表。这也标志着向马斯克的终极目标——登陆火星迈出了重要一步。不过,这一任务将取决于SpaceX被戏称为BFR(Big Fucking Rocket)的下一款火箭的成功。
        The US space establishment was initially wary of tech billionaires such as Mr Musk and the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, when they first declared their ambitions to run their own private space programmes. But Nasa quickly came to admire the highly innovative and hard-charging attitude that these entrepreneurs have brought to the business. Such has been Nasa’s faith in Mr Musk that it has even granted SpaceX a licence to operate from the hallowed ground of Launchpad 39A, the site from which Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off to the Moon in 1969.        当马斯克、亚马逊(Amazon)创始人杰夫•贝索斯(Jeff Bezos)等科技亿万富翁首次宣布开展私人太空项目的雄心时,美国太空当局起初对他们心存警惕。但美国国家航空航天局(NASA)很快就开始称赞这些企业家为太空事业带来的高度创新和进取心十足的精神。NASA对马斯克如此有信心,甚至给予SpaceX许可证,允许其使用具有历史意义的肯尼迪航天中心39A发射台(Launchpad 39A),即尼尔•阿姆斯特朗(Neil Armstrong)、巴兹•奥尔德林(Buzz Aldrin)和迈克尔•科林斯(Michael Collins) 1969年登月时的发射台。
        So many people have now bought into Mr Musk’s extraordinary vision that it might be sensible to apply a discount to his accomplishments. Certainly, the $57bn stock market value of Tesla Motors, his lossmaking car company that delivered just over 100,000 vehicles last year, would appear to defy financial gravity. And the failed deployment of a spy satellite following its launch on a Falcon 9 rocket on January 7 also highlighted the periodic fallibility of the SpaceX programme, although the company has said its rocket functioned perfectly.        现在有这么多的人为马斯克的非凡愿景所折服,也许给他的成就打点折扣是理智的。当然,马斯克旗下去年仅交付10多万辆汽车且处于亏损中的特斯拉(Tesla Motors) 570亿美元的市值,似乎是有违金融规律。1月7日,猎鹰9号火箭搭载的一颗间谍卫星部署失败也凸显出SpaceX项目不时会出现问题,尽管该公司称其火箭表现完美。
        It used to be said of Steve Jobs that Apple’s monomaniacal founder conjured up his own “reality distortion field”, in whose thrall people suspended their disbelief. Much the same can be said of Mr Musk.        过去人们常说苹果公司有些偏执狂的创始人史蒂夫•乔布斯(Steve Jobs)创造了自己的“现实扭力场”(reality distortion field),陷身其中的人会停止质疑。同样的说法也可适用于马斯克。
        But whatever the occasional distortions, the underlying reality behind both entrepreneurs’ achievements is impressive and indisputable.        但不管间或造成了什么扭曲,两位企业家成就背后的深层现实是令人印象深刻和无可争议的。
        john.thornhill@ft.com        john.thornhill@ft.com

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