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        #208: The Space Race

        作者:Jerilyn Watson 發布日期:9-7-2013

        Astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin walks by the footpad of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module in July 1969
        Astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin walks by the footpad of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module in July 1969

        STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

        (SOUND: Radio signals from Sputnik)

        On a cold October day in nineteen fifty-seven, the Soviet Union launched a small satellite into orbit around the Earth. Radio Moscow made the announcement.

        RADIO MOSCOW: "The first artificial Earth satellite in the world has now been created. This first satellite was today successfully launched in the USSR."

        The world's first satellite was called Sputnik 1. Sputnik was an important propaganda victory for the Soviets in the Cold War with the United States.

        Many people believed the nation that controlled space could win any war. And the Soviet Union had reached outer space first.

        (MUSIC)

        The technology that launched Sputnik probably began in the late nineteenth century. A Russian teacher of that time, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, decided that a rocket engine could provide power for a space vehicle.

        In the early nineteen hundreds, another teacher -- American Robert Goddard -- tested the idea. He experimented with small rockets to see how high and how far they could travel. In nineteen twenty-three, a Romanian student in Germany, Hermann Oberth, showed how a spaceship might be built and launched to other planets.

        Rocket technology improved during World War Two. It was used to produce flying bombs.

        (SOUND: V-1 bomb)

        Thousands of people in Britain and Belgium died as a result of V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks. The rockets were launched from Germany. The larger V-2 rocket had the ability to hit the United States.

        After the war, it became clear that the United States and the Soviet Union -- allies in wartime -- would become enemies in peacetime. So, both countries employed German scientists to help them win the race to space.

        (SOUND: Radio signals from Sputnik)

        The Soviets took the first step by creating Sputnik. This satellite was about the size of a basketball. It got its power from a rocket. It orbited Earth for three months.

        The Soviets launched a dog named Laika on Sputnik 2 in November 1957. She survived just hours.
        The Soviets launched a dog named Laika on Sputnik 2 in November 1957. She survived just hours.

        Within weeks, the Soviets launched another satellite into Earth orbit, Sputnik 2. It was much bigger and heavier than Sputnik 1. It also carried a passenger: a dog named Laika. Laika orbited Earth for seven days (but died after several hours.)

        (MUSIC)

        The United States joined the space race about three months later. It launched a satellite from Cape Canaveral, in the southeastern state of Florida. This satellite was called Explorer 1. It weighed about fourteen kilograms. Explorer One went into a higher orbit than either Sputnik. And its instruments made an important discovery. They found an area of radiation about nine hundred-sixty kilometers above Earth.

        Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin before launch in April 1961
        Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin before launch in April 1961

        The next major space victory belonged to the Soviets. They sent the first man into space. In April nineteen sixty-one, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched in the vehicle known as Vostok. He remained in space for less than two hours. He landed safely by parachute near a village in Russia.

        Less than a month later, the United States sent its first astronaut into space. He was Alan Shepard. Shepard remained in space only about fifteen minutes. He did not go into Earth orbit. That flight came in February, nineteen sixty-two, with John Glenn.

        By nineteen sixty-five, the United States and the Soviet Union were experimenting to see if humans could survive outside a spacecraft. In March, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov became the first person to do so. A strong tether connected Leonov to the spacecraft. The tether gave him oxygen to breathe. And it permitted him to float freely at the other end.

        After about ten minutes, Leonov had to return to the spacecraft. He said he regretted the decision. He was having such a good time!

        A little more than two months later, an American would walk outside his spacecraft. Astronaut Edward White had a kind of rocket gun. This gave him some control of his movements in space. Like Leonov, White was sorry when he had to return to his spacecraft.

        Later that year, nineteen sixty-five, the United States tried to have one spacecraft get very close to another spacecraft while in orbit. This was the first step in getting spacecraft to link, or dock, together. Docking would be necessary to land men on the moon. The plan called for a Gemini spacecraft carrying two astronauts to get close to an unmanned satellite.

        The attempt failed. The target satellite exploded as it separated from its main rocket. America's space agency decided to move forward. It would launch the next in its Gemini series. Then someone had an idea: why not launch both Geminis. The second one could chase the first one, instead of a satellite. Again, things did not go as planned.

        It took two tries to launch the second Gemini. By that time, the first one had been in orbit about eleven days. Time was running out. The astronauts on the second Gemini moved their spacecraft into higher orbits. They got closer and closer to the Gemini ahead of them. They needed to get within six hundred meters to be considered successful.

        After all the problems on the ground, the events in space went smoothly. The two spacecraft got within one-third of a meter of each other. The astronauts had made the operation seem easy.

        In January nineteen fifty-nine, the Soviets launched a series of unmanned Luna rockets. The third of these flights took pictures of the far side of the moon. This was the side no one on Earth had ever seen. The United States planned to explore the moon with its unmanned Ranger spacecraft.

        There were a number of failures before Ranger 7 took pictures of the moon. These pictures were made from a distance. The world did not get pictures from the surface of the moon until the Soviet Luna 9 landed there in February, nineteen sixty-six.

        For the next few years, both the United States and Soviet Union continued their exploration of the moon. Yet the question remained: which one would be the first to put a man there. In December, nineteen sixty-eight, the United States launched Apollo 8 with three astronauts. The flight proved that a spacecraft could orbit the moon and return to Earth safely.

        The Apollo 9 spacecraft had two vehicles. One was the command module. It could orbit the moon, but could not land on it. The other was the Lunar module. On a flight to the moon, it would separate from the command module and land on the moon's surface. Apollo 10 astronauts unlinked the Lunar module and flew it close to the moon's surface.

        (SOUND)

        After those flights, everything was ready.

        Liftoff of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969
        Liftoff of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969

        NASA ANNOUNCER: "Twelve ... eleven ... ten ... nine ... ignition sequence start ... six ... five ... four ... three ... two ... one ... zero. All engines running. Liftoff.? We have a liftoff. Thirty-two minutes past the hour, liftoff of Apollo 11."

        On July sixteenth, nineteen sixty-nine, three American astronauts lifted off in Apollo 11. On the twentieth, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin entered the Lunar module, called the Eagle. Michael Collins remained in the command module, the Columbia.

        The two vehicles separated.

        (SOUND)

        It was a dangerous time. The Eagle could crash. Or it could fall over after it landed. That meant the astronauts would die on the moon.

        Millions of people watched on television or listened on the radio. They waited for Armstrong's message.

        NEIL ARMSTRONG: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

        The Eagle has landed. Then they waited again. It took the astronauts more than three hours to complete the preparations needed to leave the Lunar module.

        Finally, the door opened. Neil Armstrong climbed down first. He put one foot on the moon. Then, the other foot. And then came his words, from so far away:

        NEIL ARMSTRONG: "That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

        STEVE EMBER: That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

        WALTER CRONKITE: "Man on the Moon. Oh, boy! Whew, boy!

        RADIO COMMUNICATIONS: "OK, were gonna be busy for a minute."

        CBS Television newsman Walter Cronkite shared the excitement that he and so many people felt as man first walked on the surface of the moon.

        Years later, Cronkite would remember the historical significance (importance) of that moment in nineteen sixty-nine.

        WALTER CRONKITE: "It's hard, I think, to imagine our emotions at the moment. It really was something that had to grip you. It was as if you could have stood at the dock and waved goodbye to Columbus. You knew darn good and well that this was the real history in the making."

        Armstrong walked around. Soon, Aldrin joined him.

        NASA RADIO COMMUNICATION: "They're setting up the flag now."

        Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the US flag on the moon on July 20, 1969
        Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the US flag on the moon on July 20, 1969

        The two men placed an American flag on the surface of the moon. They also collected moon rocks and soil.

        When it was time to leave, they returned to the Eagle and guided it safely away. They reunited with the Columbia and headed for home. The United States had won the race to the moon.

        WALTER CRONKITE: "The thing that made this one particularly gripping was that sense of history -- that, if this was successful, this was a date that was going to be in all the history books, for time evermore. I think we sensed that at the time, sitting there at the Cape [Canaveral], watching that great beast get on its way, that this was it."

        (MUSIC)

        You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.squishedblueberries.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION #208 -- American history in VOA Special English.

        1957年10月一個寒冷的日子,蘇聯的一顆小衛星升空,進入地球軌道,莫斯科電臺的節目里說:"第一顆人造地球衛星問世,蘇聯今天成功發射了第一顆衛星"。

        世界上第一顆人造衛星被稱為"衛星一號"。"衛星一號"的問世是蘇聯在冷戰中贏得的一場宣傳上的重大勝利。很多人相信,誰能控制外太空,誰就能打贏任何一場戰爭,而"衛星一號"讓蘇聯在征服外太空的競賽中先行了一步。

        "衛星一號"升空利用的技術早在十九世紀末就出現了。當時的一個俄羅斯科學家康斯坦丁.齊奧爾科夫斯基覺得,火箭發動機可以為航天器提供動力。

        二十世紀初,美國人羅伯特.戈達德對這種設想進行了測試,用小火箭做試驗,看它們能飛多高,走多遠。1923年,一個在德國的羅馬尼亞學生赫爾曼.奧伯特展示了如何制造太空器,并將太空器發射到別的星球?;鸺夹g在二戰期間進一步改進,被用于生產飛行炸彈。

        二戰期間,數千人死于德國的V-1和V-2火箭襲擊。V-2火箭性能更好,能打到美國。二戰結束后,戰時的盟友美國和蘇聯成了和平時期的敵人,雙方都雇傭德國科學家,幫助它們展開太空競賽。

        開始時蘇聯領先,成功研制出了"衛星一號"。"衛星一號"有籃球那么大,靠火箭助推升空,繞地球運行三個月。此后不久,蘇聯有發射了"衛星二號",體積和重量都超過了"衛星一號",上面還帶了個特殊的乘客,一只名叫萊卡的狗。

        三個月后,美國加入太空競賽,從佛羅里達州的卡納維拉爾角發射了一顆衛星,名叫"探險者一號",重約14公斤。"探險者一號"比蘇聯的"衛星一號"和"衛星二號"飛行的軌道都要高,"探險者一號"上配備的研究儀器還有了重大發現,在地球外960公里處發現了磁輻射帶。

        此后,蘇聯的"東方號"飛船1961年4月將蘇聯宇航員尤里.加加林送入太空,贏得了太空競賽的又一大勝利。尤里.加加林是進入太空的第一人,他在太空停留不到兩小時,在俄羅斯附近的一個小村莊用降落傘安全降落。

        不到一個月后,美國宇航員艾倫.謝波德也成功完成了太空飛行。他在外太空只停留了大約15分鐘,沒有進入地球軌道,美國第一個進入地球軌道的太空人是約翰.格倫,他的飛行是在1962年2月完成的。

        到1965年的時候,美國和蘇聯都在嘗試,看宇航員能否走出飛船。1965年3月,蘇聯宇航員阿列克謝.萊奧諾夫成為第一個走出飛船的人,他通過一條結實的帶子跟飛船連在一起,靠帶子獲得氧氣,讓他可以自由漂浮。大約十分鐘后,萊奧諾夫回到飛船上,但是他事后感到很后悔,因為太空漂浮實在太奇妙了。

        兩個多月后,美國宇航員愛德華.懷特也走出太空船,而且靠著攜帶的裝備,能更好地控制自己的行動。跟萊奧諾夫一樣,他返回飛船后,也感到十分遺憾。

        1965年下半年,美國讓一個攜帶兩名宇航員的雙子座飛船設法在軌道內靠近一個無人控制的衛星,這是飛船在外太空對接的首次嘗試,也是登月必須掌握的技術。

        然而,目標衛星在跟主火箭分離時爆炸,讓這次嘗試以失敗告終。美國航空航天局決定再試一次。這時候,有人提議發射兩個雙子座飛船,讓第二個追第一個,而不是追一顆無人控制的衛星。

        然而,這次行動也沒那么順利。第二艘飛船第一次發射不成功,等第二次發射后成功進入軌道時,第一個飛船已經運行11天了,時間所剩無幾。第二艘飛船上的宇航員逐漸接近第一艘飛船,只有兩艘飛船距離在600米以內,這次行動才算成功。

        最后,兩艘飛船之間的距離只有不到一米寬,宇航員的駕駛技巧讓這次行動看上去十分簡單。1959年1月,蘇聯人先后發射了一系列無人駕駛的月球火箭,其中三分之一的飛行拍到了在地球上看不到的月球的另一面。與此同時,美國也計劃用無人駕駛的突擊者宇宙飛船探索月球。

        美國探索月球的計劃先后幾次失敗,直到突擊者七號才遠遠地拍到了月球的照片。人類得到從月球表面拍攝的照片,則要等到1966年2月蘇聯月球9號在月球著陸。

        在接下來的幾年里,美國和蘇聯繼續月球探索,都希望成為第一個把宇航員送上月球的國家。1968年12月,美國發射了阿波羅8號,上面帶著三個宇航員,這次行動證明,宇宙飛船可以繞月球飛行,并安全返回地球。

        阿波羅9號有兩個艙,一個是指揮艙,可以繞月球飛行,但不能著陸,另一個是登月艙,可以脫離指揮艙,在月球表面著陸。阿波羅10號宇航員成功地讓登月艙跟指揮艙分離,飛到離月球表面很近的地方。

        1969年7月16號,阿波羅11號帶著三名美國宇航員升空。7月20號,尼爾.阿姆斯特朗和埃德溫.奧爾德林進入名為"鷹"的登月艙,邁克爾.科林斯留在名為"哥倫比亞"的指揮艙里。兩個艙成功分離。

        當時情勢很危險,登月艙很可能墜落,或是著陸時出問題,讓宇航員性命受到威脅。數百萬人在電視機或是收音機旁關注這一歷史時刻,等待阿姆斯特朗的消息。

        阿姆斯特朗說:"休斯頓,這里是靜?;?,鷹已著陸"。鷹已著陸,讓大家松了一口氣。大家繼續等待。宇航員花了三個多小時的時間才完成離開登月艙需要做的準備工作。阿姆斯特朗說:"這是個人的一小步,人類的一大步。"

        當時現場報導這一歷史事件的美國哥倫比亞廣播公司的著名電視主持人沃爾特.克朗凱特多年后回憶說:"你很難想像我們當時的心情,這確實是一件深深吸引你的事件,好像是你本人站在指揮艙口,揮手向指揮艙告別。你清楚地知道,這是在見證歷史。"

        阿姆斯特朗在月球上行走一會兒后,奧爾德林也登上了月球,兩人在月球上立起了美國國旗,并收集了月球巖石和泥土。隨后放回登月艙,重返哥倫比亞指揮艙,回到地面。美國先于蘇聯登上了月球。

        哥倫比亞廣播公司的著名電視主持人沃爾特.克朗凱特當時說:"這次事件特別吸引人的地方就是它的歷史感,如果登月成功,這一天將被永遠地載入史冊。"

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