Another more advanced system was designed for the B-1B, called the ANS-26, which had a different configuration than that of the NAS-14, but even during the waning days of SR-71 Blackbird operations, the system combined with INS was supposedly able to put the aircraft within roughly a 300 foot box in space and time.

Bringing automatic celestial navigation into the future

New astro-trackers use a far less mechanically complex systems to provide astro-tracking, such as those that get rid of the gimbaled telescope and use a very wide angle staring sensor array in its place. This technology has actually been around since the end of the Cold War in the form of systems like Northrop’s Optical Wide-angle Lens Startracker (OWLS), which uses a holographic lens and a sensor system that is far more sensitive and thus more capable of detecting stars.


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Featured image courtesy of U.S. Air Force