Space sextant

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Astronaut James Arthur Lovell at the Space Sextant ( Apollo 8 )

The space sextant (translated: space sextant - uncommon , also abbreviated to STX in manuals ) is an optical measuring instrument for manual or (partially) automated navigation in space . The space sextant differs greatly from the sextants used in seafaring in terms of design and handling. A navigation telescope , the Scanning Telescope  (SCT), is attached to the actual device and is permanently mounted in the spacecraft .

A still imperfect experimental model of the space sextant flew on the Gemini 10 mission and still had many shortcomings. The knowledge gained from this flowed into the development of the model for the Apollo spacecraft , which was carried out in the mid-1960s as an external development at the Instrumentation Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  (MIT) (today: Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. ) on behalf of  NASA originated. This significantly improved version was a combination of telescope and sextant, had a direct input (DSKY) for the Apollo Guidance Computer and was a crucial device for navigation. About 50 measurements were taken during the flight to the moon and back.

The space sextant was installed in the tunnel transition to the hatch between the command capsule and the lunar module (in the picture), in the lunar module it was located in the middle of the ceiling.

Today in satellites and space probes in use star sensors are derived from the Space sextant.

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