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Navigation Using Signals from High-Altitude Satellites

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1 Author(s)
Alton B. Moody ; U. S. Navy Hydrographic Office, Office of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.

If electronics can be satisfactorily applied to celestial navigation, a system having universal coverage without weather limitations might be produced. Radio stars are not a promising possibility, but the sun and moon are being tracked by the U. S. Navy Radio Sextant, AN/SRN-4, to provide limited coverage. Universal coverage might be achieved by the addition of artificial earth satellites. Satellites in orbits a few hundred miles from the earth might be used in some form of piloting system, but orbit-prediction problems, limited coverage by individual satellites, and computer complexities are serious obstacles to be overcome by such a system. A different approach would be to place three or four satellites in orbits at an optimum distance somewhere between 1000 and 12,000 miles from the earth to serve as artificial celestial bodies in a system that would be a natural evolution from traditional celestial navigation methods. A stabilized directional antenna operating with a receiver capable of accepting signals from both the satellites and the sun would provide angle measurement data both for fixing the position of the craft and also for establishing a north reference. The degree of sophistication of the user equipment would differ with requirements.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IRE  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 4 )