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NASA研發新型超音速飛機
Until now, the sonic boom has kept faster flight from being possible. But the space agency might have the answer.

Nasa might be famous for sending rockets up to space quickly. But it could be making your next holiday come more quickly, too.

美國太空總署也許因為飛速把火箭送入太空而聞名,但它也有可能為你下個假期所乘的航班提速。

The space agency is working on a new plane, dubbed Concorde 2 by some people, that could solve the problems of super-sonic flight and vastly increase the speed of journeys abroad.

該機構正在研發一種新型飛機,有人稱之為"協和式二號",它或許可以解決超音速飛機的問題,大幅提升國際航班的飛行速度。

If successful, the plane would be able to fly between New York and London in just three hours. And it would halve the time spent flying other journeys, since it could be used more broadly.

如果新型超音速飛機研製成功,那麼從紐約到倫敦的飛行時間只需要3小時。該飛機還也可以廣泛應用於其他行程,將飛行時間減半。

Until now, the problem with such planes has been the sonic boom, made famous by the original Concorde. That happens when a plane reaches supersonic speeds.

目前為止,超音速飛機始終存在音爆問題,當飛機的速度超過音速時,就會發生音爆。初代協和式飛機就讓人們普遍認識到這點。

It is a thunderous noise that upsets people on the ground – disturbing livestock and even causing physical problems to materials and houses underneath. It was irritation with that effect that led Congress to ban such planes from being used over US land, a decision that in turn was partly responsible for Concorde failing to be commercially viable and getting mothballed.

音爆是一種雷鳴般的噪音,它讓地面上的人牲感到不適,甚至還會對物體和房屋造成物理傷害。正是這些負面影響引發的不滿導致美國國會禁止了超音速飛機在美國國內飛行,這個決定繼而部分導致了協和式飛機不能繼續商用,最終停飛。

The space agency has successfully tried out the technology in wind tunnels, and now believes that it could be put to commercial use. It now wants to test that out by having commercial companies build a version of the plane that could be put to use.

美國太空總署已經在風洞裡成功測試了相關技術並相信可以將其運用在商業飛行中,他們現在希望由商業公司製造一架可以投入使用的飛機以進行試飛。

That plane will fly as high as 55,000 feet – far higher than normal planes – and make a sound of only 60 decibels. That's far less than the 90 decibels thrown out by Concorde, and is roughly in line with a car on the motorway or a busy restaurant.

新型超音速飛機將在17000米的高空飛行,飛行高度比普通飛機要高得多,其發出聲音只有60分貝,遠小於協和式飛機的90分貝,與高速公路上行駛的汽車和熱鬧餐館裡的音量大致相當。

"Now you're getting down to that level where, as far as approval from the general public, it would probably be something that's acceptable," said Peter Coen, project manager for NASA's commercial supersonic research team, in a new Bloomberg report.

美國太空總署商用超音速飛機研究團隊的項目經理彼得•科恩在彭博社的新報導中指出,"現在我們已經要成功了:只要公眾同意,新型飛機就很可能被大家接受"。

If that allows the team to get approval, it hopes to have full-sized versions of the planes to try out by 2022.

如果該團隊能得到公眾支援,那麼有望在2022年前對原型飛機進行測試。

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