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US to Test Its First Automated Space Rendezvous System

时间:2005-05-24 16:00来源:互联网 提供网友:chirie   字体: [ ]


By David McAlary

The U.S. space agency is planning to conduct its first completely automated1 rendezvous2 in space Tuesday. In a test of new technology, a spacecraft is scheduled to be launched to track and meet an orbiting satellite with no human intervention3, a capability4 now enjoyed only by Russia.

Every U.S. rendezvous and docking in space over the last 40 years has required the guiding hands of astronauts. In contrast, Russian Soyuz crew vehicles and Progress cargo5 rockets routinely mate with the international space station automatically.

Now the U.S. space agency NASA is looking ahead to the time when its manned space shuttles stop visiting the station in six years and when robot supply ships are needed to service bases on the moon or Mars.

To demonstrate the technology to do this, an autonomous6 spacecraft named DART7 will be carried into space by a Pegasus rocket after both are dropped from the wing of a jet aircraft high over the Pacific Ocean. Once released, DART will use only its computers and sensors9 to rendezvous with a retired10 U.S. military communications satellite.

"DART is basically the technology to put two objects together in space," the manager of the DART project is James Snoddy. "What we've done with DART is we've basically created an eye, which we call an Advanced Video Guidance Sensor8, to be able to locate an object in space. We've also created what we call a brain, which has the ability to run all the guidance and control schemes in space without any human intervention."

The DART spacecraft is to guide itself to the vicinity of the target satellite with the help of a network of other satellites known as the Global Positioning System. The Global Positioning System relays data that the target satellite itself transmits about its location. As DART approaches the satellite, it own laser beam eye takes over the search. Mr. Snoddy says that once DART has located the satellite, it is to make a series of intricate maneuvers11 around it before closing in to a distance of five meters.

"We're basically pretty excited about being able to turn DART and let autopilot go and it's going to be an interesting mission where you really have no control of your mission once you let go of it, that's what the technology is all about," he said. "which one day this will allow for total autonomous operations in space."

The DART spacecraft will not dock during this demonstration12 because the target satellite was not designed for docking. But Mr. Snoddy says DART is precise enough to be able to attach to its target within a tolerance13 of only millimeters.

The technology will get its chance to prove itself in a series of actual dockings in two years. NASA and the U.S. military have joined forces to develop another autonomous spacecraft capable of refueling and servicing satellites. Beginning in late 2006, it will conduct several docking and refueling exercises and robotic transfers.

Such a craft could even be used to service the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007 or later now that NASA has decided14 not to send astronauts on such a mission.

Mr. Snoddy says even when a mission is manned, the technology would also be useful as an autopilot.

"Even the human eye has some error in it," he said. "An autopilot is a great thing to have to measure the distance and bring me precisely15 in to dock."

David McAlary , VOA News, Washington.

satellite 人造卫星
intervention 干预
dock 空间对接
astronaut 宇航员
demonstrate 证实
vicinity 附近地区
intricate 复杂的
maneuver 操纵
autopilot 自动驾驶仪
precise 精确的
Hubble Space Telescope 哈勃太空望远镜


1 automated fybzf9     
  • The entire manufacturing process has been automated. 整个生产过程已自动化。
  • Automated Highway System (AHS) is recently regarded as one subsystem of Intelligent Transport System (ITS). 近年来自动公路系统(Automated Highway System,AHS),作为智能运输系统的子系统之一越来越受到重视。
2 rendezvous XBfzj     
  • She made the rendezvous with only minutes to spare.她还差几分钟时才来赴约。
  • I have a rendezvous with Peter at a restaurant on the harbour.我和彼得在海港的一个餐馆有个约会。
3 intervention e5sxZ     
  • The government's intervention in this dispute will not help.政府对这场争论的干预不会起作用。
  • Many people felt he would be hostile to the idea of foreign intervention.许多人觉得他会反对外来干预。
4 capability JsGzZ     
  • She has the capability to become a very fine actress.她有潜力成为杰出演员。
  • Organizing a whole department is beyond his capability.组织整个部门是他能力以外的事。
5 cargo 6TcyG     
  • The ship has a cargo of about 200 ton.这条船大约有200吨的货物。
  • A lot of people discharged the cargo from a ship.许多人从船上卸下货物。
6 autonomous DPyyv     
  • They proudly declared themselves part of a new autonomous province.他们自豪地宣布成为新自治省的一部分。
  • This is a matter that comes within the jurisdiction of the autonomous region.这件事是属于自治区权限以内的事务。
7 dart oydxK     
  • The child made a sudden dart across the road.那小孩突然冲过马路。
  • Markov died after being struck by a poison dart.马尔科夫身中毒镖而亡。
8 sensor sz7we     
  • The temperature sensor is enclosed in a protective well.温度传感器密封在保护套管中。
  • He plugged the sensor into a outlet.他把传感器插进电源插座。
9 sensors 029aee483db9ae244d7a5cb353e74602     
n.传感器,灵敏元件( sensor的名词复数 )
  • There were more than 2000 sensors here. 这里装有两千多个灵敏元件。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Significant changes have been noted where sensors were exposed to trichloride. 当传感器暴露在三氯化物中时,有很大变化。 来自辞典例句
10 retired Njhzyv     
  • The old man retired to the country for rest.这位老人下乡休息去了。
  • Many retired people take up gardening as a hobby.许多退休的人都以从事园艺为嗜好。
11 maneuvers 4f463314799d35346cd7e8662b520abf     
n.策略,谋略,花招( maneuver的名词复数 )
  • He suspected at once that she had been spying upon his maneuvers. 他立刻猜想到,她已经侦察到他的行动。 来自辞典例句
  • Maneuvers in Guizhou occupied the Reds for four months. 贵州境内的作战占了红军四个月的时间。 来自辞典例句
12 demonstration 9waxo     
  • His new book is a demonstration of his patriotism.他写的新书是他的爱国精神的证明。
  • He gave a demonstration of the new technique then and there.他当场表演了这种新的操作方法。
13 tolerance Lnswz     
  • Tolerance is one of his strengths.宽容是他的一个优点。
  • Human beings have limited tolerance of noise.人类对噪音的忍耐力有限。
14 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
15 precisely zlWzUb     
  • It's precisely that sort of slick sales-talk that I mistrust.我不相信的正是那种油腔滑调的推销宣传。
  • The man adjusted very precisely.那个人调得很准。
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