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    Re: Sextants in space
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2018 May 18, 11:35 -0700

    Paul, you wrote:
    "The picture shows Alex Gerst using a conventional marine sextant in the ISS Cupola."

    I believe that's a staged photo in a simulator, right? Whatever sextant they're planning to use in these experiments is scheduled to launch on a cargo flight now scheduled for this Monday, May 21. Will it be a standard marine sextant like the one in the photo? If so, I do hope someone attaches a big red ball to the end of the adjustment tool. If it floats free, it will surely disappear in the endless hiding spaces aboard the ISS. Or will they dust off one of the Kollsman "space sextants" from forty years ago? Better yet, why not fly an old Troughton sextant from 1815?! They were every bit as good as those so-called space sextants.

    You added:
    "The aforementioned flights used devices specially designed for spaceflight. (I have info if anybody is interested in having it posted)"

    Please post whatever you want. Also, I have written extensively about sextants in space in NavList posts over the years, and I spoke about them at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, in 2012. Coming up in less than two weeks, I'll be doing an extended version of that talk on "Lunars in the Space Age" at the Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society's annual conference which is being hosted this year by Mystic Seaport Museum. 

    A little opinion: this is NASA's p.r. office at work. There are obviously greatly superior, highly reliable tools available in the 21st century from self-contained star trackers to handheld digital cameras. But an old-fashioned sextant fills a great role in terms of exciting certain constituencies.

    Frank Reed


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