经济学人官方译文 | 现代太空竞赛:私人企业和新兴大国正在取代冷战时期的两大霸主

A modern space race
现代太空竞赛
The next generation
长江后浪推前浪
Private businesses and rising powers are replacing the cold-war duopoly
私人企业和新兴大国正在取代冷战时期的两大霸主

经济学人官方译文节选 | 现代太空竞赛:私人企业和新兴大国正在取代冷战时期的两大霸主

Some 4,500 satellites circle Earth, providing communications services and navigational tools, monitoring weather, observing the universe, spying and doing more besides. Getting them there was once the business of the superpowers’ armed forces and space agencies. Now it is mostly done by companies and the governments of developing countries.
大约有4500颗卫星环绕地球,提供通信和导航服务、监测天气、观测宇宙、开展侦察和其他很多活动。将卫星发射至太空曾经是超级大国的军队和航天机构的专利。现在这项工作主要由私人公司和发展中国家的政府来承担。

During the early years of the space race reaching orbit was hard. Between 1957 and 1962, 32% of American launches and 30% of Soviet ones failed. Accidents still happen: on October 11th a Russian rocket aborted its ascent shortly after launch (both crew members landed unharmed). Only states could assume such risks—and even if American firms had wanted to bear them, its government would not let them on national-security grounds. Companies eager to send objects into space, including telecoms firms, had to hitch a ride with NASA.
在太空竞赛的早期,进入轨道并非易事。1957年至1962年间,美国和苏联的发射失败率分别为32%和30%。至今仍会发生事故:本月11日,一枚俄罗斯火箭发射后不久便发生故障(两名宇航员安全返回地面)。过去,只有国家才能担当这样的风险——即使美国公司愿意,美国政府出于国家安全的考虑也不会让它们担此风险。电信公司等迫切想将卫星送至太空的企业不得不搭美国国家航空航天局(以下简称NASA)的便车。

This changed when European countries started building launchers through a mostly state-owned company called Arianespace, which touted for custom among satellite-makers around the world. When the space shuttleChallenger exploded in 1986, NASA got out of the satellite-launching business. It and, later, the Pentagon became new customers for private launch firms, alongside the satellite operators.
当欧洲各国开始通过一家名为阿丽亚娜空间(Arianespace)的国有控股公司制造发射装置时,情况发生了变化。该公司在世界各地的卫星制造商中招徕客户。1986年“挑战者号”航天飞机爆炸,NASA就此退出了卫星发射业务,之后和卫星运营商们一道,成为私营发射公司的新客户。五角大楼后来也加入其中。

经济学人官方译文节选 | 现代太空竞赛:私人企业和新兴大国正在取代冷战时期的两大霸主

In the past decade the West’s space-launch market has become more competitive thanks to an innovative new entrant, SpaceX. But state-run programmes still lead the way in emerging markets. In 2003 China became the third country to put a person into orbit; India plans to follow suit in 2022. Both sell launch services to private clients. China did legalise private space flight in 2014, but no companies based there have yet reached orbit on their own.
过去十年里,因为勇于创新的后来者SpaceX的入局,西方太空发射市场的竞争变得更加激烈。但在新兴市场,国营项目仍占据主导地位。2003年,中国成为第三个实现载人航天的国家。印度计划在2022年实现这一目标。中印两国都向私人客户提供发射服务。中国虽然于2014年就立法准许私人航天活动,但迄今为止还没有一家中国公司凭一己之力进入轨道。

Like their cold-war predecessors, these Asian titans have strategic goals as well as a thirst for publicity. They need independent access to space for communication, intelligence and navigation. However commercialised space gets, the competition will never be solely economic.
与冷战时期的前辈们一样,这两个亚洲大国既渴望吸引世人的眼球,也有自己的战略目标。它们需要能独立进入太空来从事通信、情报和导航等活动。无论太空变得多么商业化,竞争永远不会仅仅局限于经济层面。