Coast Guard Academy Officer Using a Sextant

Naval Sextant Makes a Comeback Against Cyber Crime

Dr. Charles Stark Draper
Phil Bowditch For Brochure
Dusan Alexander Koso

The US Navy is bringing back celestial navigation to fight hackers.

The United States military, government, civilians, business, the power grid, we are all dependent on GPS to tell us where we are and where we want to go. There is only on problem, our GPS systems are hackable and our country is totally dependent on GPS. If our GPS constellation network in space was hacked our country would be totally vulnerable to attack. So engineers have been searching for an alternative...and they may have just found it by looking back to the beginning of our space exploration program.

The Apollo space program used celestial navigation to help guide the spacecraft and astronauts to the moon and back. It is an ancient practice of finding your way by the sun, moon and the stars. Celestial navigation dates back thousands of years. There is even a reference to it in Homer’s Odyssey. The Greeks and Romans used it. It allows you to move through space without having to know your position. But in the seventies everything changed when we started launching satellites into space and built our GPS network, it made everything easier and way more accurate than the stars could so by the year 2000 the Navy started phasing out the use of sextants by and gave their cadets computers. Electronic Navigation was the way of the future. Then September 11th happened and the era of terrorism, cyber attacks and autonomous navigation begins.

Mounting fears about the vulnerability of GPS and a desire to return to simple and safe is pushing the Navy back to the time of Apollo to protect their fleets and our country. Who would have thought the revolutionary Guidance and Navigation system invented for the Apollo missions would be our alternative to GPS in the 21st century?