A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2018 May 18, 11:49 -0700
Greg, you wrote:
"Wouldn't a digital camera be the better solution for backup CN on a space craft ?"
Absolutely. This is where the "show" beats the "science". There are obviously better practical options, but this will look great in videos, and it will make NASA's astronauts look like explorers again. What next... tri-corner hats?? Eyepatches?? Arrggg. :) Plus, one or more of the astronauts may have requested a sextant for their own amusement and personal experiments. They are allowed such luxuries.
All aspects of manual celestial navigation were thoroughly tested out fifty years ago on Gemini and Skylab missions. Most aspects of a considerably more sophisticated semi-automated form of celestial navigation using a sextant built into the hull were tested on the early Apollo missions (mostly ignored in later missions except for the then-critical role of astro-compass to realign the inertial navigation system). The idea that we need these experiments today is an excellent example of the makework craziness that we get from the ISS. It's a waste of time and money.