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The Rich Are Planning to Leave This Wretched Planet

来源:纽约时报    2018-06-27 05:13

        HOUSTON — In an era in which privileged individuals search constantly for the next experience to obsess over and post about on social media, space truly remains the final frontier, a luxury that only the 1 percent of the 1 percent can afford. Brad Pitt and Katy Perry are among those who have reportedly plunked down $250,000 for a ride on one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceships, undaunted by a 2014 test flight that crashed and killed one pilot.        休斯敦——在这个特权人士不断寻找可供沉迷的新体验,以便在社交媒体上展示的时代,太空确实依然是最后的边界,是百分之一中的百分之一阶层才负担得起的奢侈品。乘坐理查德·布兰森(Richard Branson)的维珍银河(Virgin Galactic)太空船飞行一次,票价是25万美元(约合160万元人民币),据报道,布拉德·皮特(Brad Pitt)和凯蒂·佩里(Katy Perry)也在购票者之列,完全没有被该公司2014年试飞失败,导致一名飞行员遇难的事故吓住。
        Now a company called Axiom Space is giving those with piles of money and an adventuresome spirit something new to lust after: the prospect of an eight-day trip to space that is plush, if not entirely comfortable, and with a bit of the luster of NASA as well.        现在,一家名为公理太空(Axiom Space)的公司给那些拥有大笔金钱和冒险精神的人带来了新渴望:公司有望开发一次为期8天的太空之旅,虽说并不完全舒适,但的确是一场豪华游,而且带有一点美国航空航天局(NASA)的光环。
        Circumambulating his gray carpeted office on a recent Wednesday, Mike Suffredini — NASA veteran, Houston native, and the chief executive of Axiom Space — stopped in front of a cardboard compartment about as big as a telephone booth.        前不久的一个周三,出身NASA的休斯敦人、公理太空首席执行官迈克·苏弗雷迪尼(Mike Suffredini)在铺着灰色地毯的办公室里踱步,最后停在一个电话亭大小的硬纸板隔间前面。
        “It’s no New York hotel room,” he said with a shrug, as if apologizing for its size.        “这不是纽约的酒店房间,”他耸耸肩,好像在为它的尺寸而道歉。
        “It pretty much is, actually!” said Gabrielle Rein, Axiom’s marketing director.        “实际上它就是,真的!”公理的营销总监加布里埃尔·雷恩(Gabrielle Rein)说。
        “It” was an early mock-up of a cabin for a commercial space station, among the first of its kind, that Axiom is building: a mash-up of boutique hotel, adult space camp and NASA-grade research facility designed to hover approximately 250 miles above Earth. Axiom hired Philippe Starck, the French designer who has lent panache to everything from high-end hotel rooms to mass-market baby monitors, to outfit the interior of its cabins. Starck lined the walls with a padded, quilted, cream-colored, suede-like fabric and hundreds of tiny LED lights that glow in varying hues depending on the time of day and where the space station is floating in relation to Earth.        “它”是公理正在建造的民用空间站中一个太空舱的早期模型,是同类型中的第一批,它是精品酒店、成人太空营地和NASA级研究设施的混合体,其目标是要能悬停在地球上方约250英里的高度(合400公里)。公理聘请了法国设计师菲利普·斯塔克(Philippe Starck)来设计太空舱的内部空间,他曾经设计过各种东西,从高端酒店房间到大众市场上的婴儿监视器。斯达克在墙上铺了带有软垫、经过绗缝的奶油色麂皮质感织物,装上了数百个微小的LED灯,根据一天中的时间以及漂浮的空间站相对于地球的位置,它们会发出不同色调的光。
        “My vision is to create a comfortable egg, friendly, where walls are so soft and in harmony with the movements of the human body in zero gravity,” Starck wrote in an email, calling his intended effect “a first approach to infinity. The traveler should physically and mentally feel his or her action of floating in the universe.”        “我的设想是创造出一个舒适友好的蛋,它有着非常柔软的墙壁,与人体在零重力下的运动协调一致,”斯塔克在电子邮件中写道,他说自己希望达到的效果是“第一次感受无限。旅行者可以全身心地体会到自己在宇宙中漂浮的动作。”
        Brace for the rise of the cosmos-scenti.        太空漫游一族即将崛起。
        At the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Suffredini spent 10 years managing the International Space Station, the hulking, 20-year-old research facility in low Earth orbit. This gives him a certain edge over Branson and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who is overseeing Blue Origin. (The majority of Axiom’s 60 employees also hail from NASA.) At least Suffredini thinks so.        在美国国家航空航天局,苏弗雷迪尼花了10年时间管理国际空间站,那是一个笨重的低地轨道研究设施,已经使用了20年。因此,同布兰森和掌管着蓝色起源(Blue Origin)公司的亚马逊创始人杰夫·贝佐斯(Jeff Bezos)相比,他拥有一定的优势。(公理的60名员工大部分也来自NASA。)至少苏弗雷迪尼本人是这么想的。
        “The guys who are doing Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are going to the edge of space — they’re not going into orbit,” he said. “What they’re doing is a cool experience. It gives you about 15 minutes of microgravity, and you see the curvature of the Earth, but you don’t get the same experience that you get from viewing the Earth from above, and spending time reflecting, contemplating.”        “蓝色起源和维珍银河的人只是去到太空边缘——他们不会进入轨道,”他说。“他们正在搞的是一种很酷的体验。它可以给你大约15分钟的微重力,你可以看到地球的曲度,但是你无法得到与从太空观看地球的体验,并且花时间去深思和凝视。”
        And, naturally, posting to Instagram.        当然,还有发Instagram帖子。
        “There will be Wi-Fi,” Suffredini said. “Everybody will be online. They can make phone calls, sleep, look out the window.”        “里面会有Wi-Fi,” 苏弗雷迪尼说。“所有人都可以上网。他们可以打电话、睡觉、看窗外。”
        Maybe it will be so nice they’ll want to stay there.        也许那感觉会非常好,足以令他们流连忘返。
        The Starck-designed station is scheduled to open in 2022, but Axiom says they can start sending curious travelers into orbit as early as 2020. They’ll just have to make do with the comparatively rugged accommodations of the International Space Station, which is working with Axiom and other commercial space station outfits.        斯塔克设计的空间站计划于2022年开放,但公理表示,他们最早可以在2020年就把好奇的旅客送入轨道。这些旅客只需适应国际空间站(它目前正与公理和其他商业空间站公司合作)相对比较简陋的住宿环境。
        Axiom’s station can house eight passengers, including a professional astronaut. Each will pay $55 million for the adventure, which includes 15 weeks of training, much of it at the Johnson Space Center, a 10-minute drive from Axiom’s headquarters, and possibly a trip on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. Three entities have signed up for on-the-ground training, which starts at $1 million, Suffredini said, though he declined to name them. The inaugural trip will be only $50 million: “It’s a bargain!”        公理的空间站可容纳八名乘客,其中包括一名专业宇航员。为了这一冒险,每人需支付5500万美元的费用,其中包括15周的培训,大部分在距离公理总部只有10分钟车程的约翰逊航天中心(Johnson Space Center)进行,他们有可能搭乘埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)的SpaceX火箭升空。苏弗雷迪尼说,已经有三个实体签署了地面培训合同,起价为100万美元,尽管他拒绝透露具体是什么人。首次旅行只收取5000万美元:“这是一个优惠价!”
        “The lion’s share of the cost comes from the flight up and down,” he went on. “Rocket rides are expensive. You know people” — meaning competitors — “don’t know what they’re talking about if they’re quoting prices substantially less than what we’re stating.” (Aurora Station, a luxury space hotel being built by Orion Span, another Houston-based aerospace company, announced in April that it would charge $9.5 million per person for a 12-day trip, but did not mention the cost of the rocket ride there and back.)        “大部分成本来自飞去飞回的费用,”他继续说。“搭载火箭升空是很昂贵的。你知道,如果别人”——他是指竞争对手——“所提供的报价大大低于我们说的价格,他们就是不了解情况。”(猎户星带[Orion Span]是另一家总部位于休斯顿的航空航天公司,它于4月宣布,该公司建造的豪华太空酒店奥罗拉空间站[Aurora Station]将提供12天的太空旅行,费用是每人950万美元,但它没有提到搭载火箭往返的成本。)
        Phil Larson, a former space policy adviser to President Barack Obama who also worked for SpaceX, doesn’t expect travel prices to drop drastically in the next few years. “These habitat and outpost companies are great, but we need to solve the launch cost and transportation problem,” Larson said. “It’s like the biggest elephant in the room nobody talks about.”        曾为SpaceX工作,并曾担任贝拉克·奥巴马总统前太空政策顾问的菲尔·拉森(Phil Larson)并不认为太空旅行的价格会在未来几年急剧下降。“这些做栖息和定居的公司非常好,但我们需要解决启动成本和运输问题,”拉森说。“这个问题就像房间里最大的大象,人们都对它视而不见,没有人去谈论它。”
        The barriers to entry, beyond cost? Being 21 or older — there’s no age cap — and passing a medical exam, before the rest of training begins, as well as “The Right Stuff"-like tests of mind and mettle, like a spin in a human centrifuge (even the YouTube videos are hard to stomach). “Not only do you experience the Gs, you get put into a can that’s really — I mean, if you’re going to be a little claustrophobic, this is where you’re going to feel it,” Suffredini said. “About half the people that fly get sick for the first two or three days. Going with us for eight days gives you a chance to get over that. If you don’t get sick, you have all this time!”        除了费用之外的准入门槛?年龄在21岁及以上——没有上限,并且在其余的训练开始前要先通过体检,还有《太空英雄》(The Right Stuff)那一套——比如思维和勇气测试,比如进到人体离心机里转一转(就连YouTube视频都令人难以承受)。“你不光能体验到重力加速度,你还会被放进一个容器里,真的非常——我是说,如果你有一点幽闭恐惧症的话,你就能在这里感受到了,”苏弗雷迪尼说。“大约半数进入舱内的人在头两三天都会感到恶心。跟我们共度八天就能让你有可能克服这点。如果不感觉恶心,那这些时间都是你的!”
        To understand the grand scale of Axiom’s plans, it helps to know that astronauts have, thus far, largely been roughing it up there. The Johnson Space Center contains a life-size mock-up of the ISS, whose drab, beige interior is lined with drab, gray handholds to tether down things and people, necessary given the lack of gravity. A tour guide quaintly referred to the onboard bathroom as a “potty.” There are no showers.        想要理解公理太空计划的宏大规模,可以了解一下,宇航员们在太空的生活迄今为止大多都还比较艰苦。约翰逊航天中心(Johnson Space Center)拥有一个真实大小的国际空间站模型,里面单调的米色内衬搭配着单调的灰色把手。把手用来固定东西和人员,这在没有重力的情况下非常必要。一位导游别致地将舱内的卫生间称作“便盆”,里面没有淋浴设施。
        “The few folks that have gone to orbit as tourists, it wasn’t really a luxurious experience, it was kind of like camping," Suffredini said. The Axiom station will still have handholds, but thanks to Starck (whom Suffredini hadn’t heard of before Axiom’s branding consultant suggested they hire him) they will be plated in gold or wrapped in buttery leather, like the steering wheel of a Mercedes. Axiom’s private cabins will have screens for Netflixing and chilling — there’s not a lot to do up there, although going outside to do a spacewalk is a possibility — and there will be a great, glass-walled cupola to gather with travelers and take in a more panoramic view of Earth, perhaps with an adult beverage.        “对为数不多的几个以游客身份进入太空轨道的人来说,那并不是一个十分奢华的体验,有点像是露营,”苏弗雷迪尼说。公理太空的空间站将仍旧保留把手,但多亏了斯塔克(在公理太空的品牌顾问建议他们雇用这个人之前,苏弗雷迪尼从未听说过他),这些把手将被镀金,或是包上一层柔滑的皮革,和梅赛德斯(Mercedes)的方向盘一样。私人船舱将配备可以看Netflix或者用来放松的屏幕——在太空上并没有多少事情可做,不过去外面来一段太空漫步倒是可能。还会有巨大的玻璃穹顶可让旅行者聚在一起,一览地球全景,可能还可以就着一杯成人饮料。
        “Wine and cocktails work well,” said Michael Baine, Axiom’s chief engineer. “Beer and carbonated beverages do not. You don’t have the gravity to separate the carbon dioxide in your stomach so it causes a lot of bloating.”        “红酒和鸡尾酒的效果很好,”公理太空的首席工程师米歇尔·贝恩(Michael Baine)说。“啤酒和碳酸饮料不行。没有重力来分解你胃里的二氧化碳,因此就会造成严重的腹胀。”
        You’ll want to pack deodorant. “There’s a hygiene compartment where you do kind of a sponge bath,” Suffredini said.        届时你会要用到香体露。“有一个卫生隔间,可以来一次海绵擦身浴,”苏弗雷迪尼说。
        Suffredini’s professional life has revolved around space. “I was like everybody who watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and decided that NASA was cool and wanted to work there,” he said. While he’s overseen many missions, he hasn’t been in orbit and has no plans to see Axiom for himself. (“We’d have to work out who’s going to cover my cost,” he demurred, when asked.)        苏弗雷迪尼的职业生涯一直以太空为中心。“我和所有看过尼尔·阿姆斯特朗(Neil Armstrong)月球行走然后认定NASA很酷、想在那儿工作的人一样,”他说。虽然负责过很多次任务,他自己从未进入太空轨道,也没打算亲自去空间站上看看。(“我们得先解决谁来替我出这笔费用,”在提问时他反对说。)
        Still, Suffredini sees Axiom as a necessary step in continuing scientific research and development in space, which he believes is crucial to the survival of our species. Axiom may cater to rich thrill seekers, but he insists he is an idealist. “If you just go visit and come back, you’re not pioneering,” he said. “You’ve got to pioneer.”        但苏弗雷迪尼仍将公理太空视作太空科学研究和发展继续进行的必要一步,他认为这对我们人类这个物种的生存十分关键。公理太空或许是为了富裕的寻求刺激者而造,但他坚称自己是一个理想主义者。“如果你只是去看看就回来,那你不是在开拓,”他说。“你必须开拓。”

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