Weapon Wednesday – Going back to the Sextant?

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The U.S. Navy’s New Unhackable GPS Alternative: The Stars

GPS is a world-changing technology. It’s also incredibly fragile, easily spoofable, and consistently hackable. That’s why the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are looking to the stars for a navigational Plan B.

senior chief petty officer mike rosati uses a sextant while conducting celestial navigation training while sailing on the atlantic ocean aboard the coast guard cutter eagle, aug 3, 2015 celestial navigation is taught to the coast guard academy cadets while they spend time underway on the eagle us coast guard photo by petty officer 2nd class matthew s masaschi
Matthew S. Masaschi

Twenty-five years ago, in 1995, the U.S. Air Force reached a milestone: Its satellite Global Positioning System became fully operational. Today, GPS directs our world, from supertankers to pizza deliveries. But before the creation of this modern navigational marvel, humans looked to the heavens to find their way.

For centuries, using a sextant, a sailor could mark a ship’s location by making a few calculations to determine a star’s position relative to the horizon. Now a high-tech version of this maritime tradition is finding its way back into practice.

GPS is indispensable these days—but it’s still incredibly fragile. It can be spoofed with a fake satellite signal, hacked by an adversary, or simply destroyed. Spoofing, hacking, or destroying the stars? Not happening.

GPS may have revolutionized the way we navigate, but for years celestial navigation has been undergoing a quiet revolution of its own.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

The U.S. Navy became less reliant on the traditional sextant back in WWII with the advent of radio navigation tools, but the heavens have remained an important map for sailors and especially pilots. WWII bombers like the B-17 Flying Fortress had an ‘astrodome,’ a transparent hemisphere that allowed the navigator to take star sightings.

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About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).