Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch: New System to Navigate Russia’s Federation Spacecraft from Earth and Moon

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

New System to Navigate Russia’s Federation Spacecraft from Earth and Moon

Artist's rendering of the Federation spacecraft. Credit: Roscosmos

Russia’s promising Federation spacecraft will be furnished with an extra navigation camera to steer it both by stars and orienteering points on the Earth and the Moon, Head of Optico-Physical Studies at the Space Research Institute Roman Bessonov told TASS on Friday.

The so-called astro-orienteering systems are traditionally mounted on satellites: optical devices steer them by the Sun and stars. The new system features optical channels that will also specify the satellites’ position by terrain features on the Earth and the Moon.

"In addition to two stellar channels, two more channels look at the Earth or the Moon, i.e. at the planets. One of them is wide-angled and highlights the horizon and large-scale objects: continents on the Earth or large craters on the Moon. A narrower channel allows singling out smaller orienteering points through larger resolution," the researcher noted.

The system’s work may be impeded by the Earth’s clouds or the night time when orienteering points cannot be seen, he added.

"But in any case, the result will be obtained by processing single measurements on the ballistic trajectory," Bessonov said.

As the researcher noted, the new system will serve as the basis for defining orienteering angles for the Federation spacecraft in outer space and as reserve technology for determining coordinates (i.e. it will supplement the operation of GPS/Glonass systems or radio range ground stations).

The new navigation system may be useful in military satellites, if the GPS system is switched off, the researcher added.

A contract on continuing the work on the system was offered by Russia’s Energia Space Rocket Corporation quite recently, in late 2018, the researcher said.

Earlier, the project was halted at the stage of developing the working design documentation due to irregular financing, although technical design work was fulfilled 5-6 years ago, he noted.

The Federation spacecraft is being developed by the Energia Space Rocket Corporation. The spacecraft is designed to deliver humans and cargoes both into near-Earth orbit and into deep space. The spacecraft will have a crew of up to 4 cosmonauts. It will be capable of operating in the mode of an autonomous flight for up to 30 days and for a term of a year as part of an orbital station.

Head of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said in January that the promising Federation spacecraft will get a new name in the future.

Credit: TASS

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