S²MARTS Project No. 21-05
The Department of the Navy is seeking prototype support in accordance with an Alternative, Non-GPS Navigational Tool for Hypersonics Weapons Systems. Current navigation systems are heavily reliant on GPS signal technology for both commercial and military applications. While GPS has become a pervasive technology for military uses, it has security and availability challenges. In recent years, the ability to compromise GPS has been demonstrated by adversaries using jamming techniques that interfere with military mission execution. In times of conflict, it is possible that the GPS satellites themselves could be physically compromised. This creates a need to explore alternative technology solutions that would utilize non-terrestrial, natural or man-made objects or signals of opportunity that may be available throughout the world to provide navigation precision comparable to GPS.
Celestial navigation systems have historically been used on military, aerospace, and spaceflight systems, examples include the SR-71 Blackbird, Snark cruise missile, B-2 bombers, and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. The SR-71’s Astroinertial Navigation System utilized celestial navigation as an input to the inertial navigation computation, enabling accuracies within 300 feet. Current celestial navigation research includes using pulsars as navigational beacons and timers, demonstrated by NASA’s NICER/SEXTANT project. Star trackers are becoming increasingly popular.
The ultimate objective of this effort is to develop prototype hardware which will be evaluated via ground testing, then integrated into a hypersonic flight test campaign, culminating in a full-scale flight test. It will provide GPS-independent position determination through observation of non-terrestrial, natural or man-made objects or signals of opportunity. Integration into both developmental flight testing and full-scale flight testing is the desired end state and will require low SWaP to permit integration