No longer lost in space

Ball Aerospace & Technologies is leading a study that will determine the feasibility of using celestial sources to provide precision navigation for vehicles travelling in deep space.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Ball Aerospace & Technologies to lead the Phase I development of its X-ray Source-based Navigation for Autonomous Position Determination (XNAV) program.

XNAV is designed to provide precision navigation of vehicles travelling in deep space within hundreds of metres. It is also designed to provide a GPS back-up for space systems.

XNAV’s Phase I is expected to determine the feasibility and viability of the use of celestial sources, including pulsars, for position, attitude and time determination of deep space and spacecraft in low-earth orbit.

Ball Aerospace will conduct research and development of an autonomous position, attitude and time determination system using celestial sources in the X-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The associate contractors selected by DARPA to join Ball Aerospace in Phase I include Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).