2021-06-07 16:47:20 来源:参考消息网 责任编辑:张威威

参考消息网6月7日报道

The New “Right Stuff” Is Money and Luck

新的“必要资质”是金钱和运气

Marina Koren 玛丽娜·科伦

In a strip mall just off Houston's NASA Parkway is a restaurant called Frenchie's Italian Cuisine. You wouldn't know it from the unassuming beige storefront, but inside, Frenchie's looks like a museum. The walls are covered in framed pictures of smiling astronauts, in their blue jumpsuits and puffy spacesuits, holding up bubble helmets and model spaceships. Frenchie's has been a popular spot with NASA employees at Johnson Space Center, a few minutes away, since it opened in 1979. Over the years, astronauts have dropped in before a flight to chat with Frankie Camera, the owner, and returned with autographed mementos.

Camera, now in his 70s, still runs Frenchie's, but American spaceflight is changing fast. In the next decade, the restaurant's walls could display the stories of a new kind of astronaut. Soon rich businessmen with $55 million to spare could become astronauts. So could the founder of a company that processes credit-card payments, and a physician's assistant who works with cancer patients. Jeff Bezos could count as an astronaut too.

That thought might sound more like an SNL skit than a real future, but here we are. Americans who want to fly to space can skip the long and difficult process of becoming a NASA astronaut. Now all that's necessary is some combination of money and luck. Three wealthy people are flying via Elon Musk's SpaceX to the International Space Station. Another rich entrepreneur purchased a SpaceX flight around Earth for himself and three others, two of which he picked from a raffle and a Shark Tank–style competition. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin plans to start flying customers to the edge of space this summer, and the first passenger will be chosen through a live, open auction, like a thirsty eBay bidding war.

All of this has renewed debate about who counts as an astronaut and who doesn't. Most people would agree that the professional astronauts who work for NASA are astronauts. But what about NASA administrator Bill Nelson, who flew to space in 1986 as a member of Congress and has since referred to himself as an astronaut? And what about Bezos, who says he wants to try out his own Blue Origin spacecraft someday? Do you have to reach orbit to become an astronaut, or is simply crossing the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space enough to earn the title?

In the American consciousness, astronauts are seen as almost superhuman, with “the right stuff,” a secret-sauce set of qualities that distinguishes them from everyone else. The wealthy astronauts-to-be have promised they aren't just going to look out the window; they will donate money from raffles and auctions and help do research on the ISS.

But if astronauts become synonymous with billionaires, our lofty view of them is bound to come back down to Earth.

在休斯敦市国家航空航天局大道旁的一个商业区内,有一家名为“弗伦奇的意大利美食”的餐厅。不起眼的米色店面让你无法想象,这家餐厅的里面就像一座博物馆。墙上挂满镶着相框的宇航员照片,他们面带微笑,身穿蓝色连衣裤和鼓鼓囊囊的宇航服,手持带透明面罩的头盔和模型宇宙飞船。自1979年开业以来,这家餐厅一直很受在仅数分钟车程之外的约翰逊航天中心工作的美国国家航空航天局雇员欢迎。多年来,很多宇航员会在上天前来这里与店主弗朗基·卡梅拉聊天,返航后带着亲笔签名的纪念品再来。

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