Star Tracker Augmented Inertial Navigation System for High Altitude UAV
Navy SBIR FY2008.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.1
Topic No.: N08-073
Topic Title: Star Tracker Augmented Inertial Navigation System for High Altitude UAV
Proposal No.: N081-073-0564
Firm: Creare Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, New Hampshire 03755-0071
Contact: Paul Sorensen
Phone: (603) 643-3800
Web Site:
Abstract: We propose to develop a low-cost, high-precision navigational sensor system for air vehicles flying at high altitudes and high Mach number that does not rely on satellite navigational systems. We plan to combine a low-cost inertial navigation system with one or more star tracking cameras to provide accurate positional data at high rates for extended periods of time. High altitude balloon missions have demonstrated that it is possible to acquire a sufficient number of stars for accurate attitude determination during daylight and nighttime hours. We plan to combine the highly accurate attitude information from the star camera with a star atlas and the INS to give optimal position estimates with near GPS accuracy. The navigation platform is completely passive and consumes little power. It enables high altitude air vehicles accurate navigation capability even during periods where GPS signals are unavailable due to enemy jamming or otherwise. With the advances in digital equipment, such as high resolution CCD devices, the cost of manufacture can be kept so low that our navigation system can be used on expendable weapons systems.
Benefits: The combined accuracy and high update rate of our proposed low-cost star camera augmented inertial navigation system can be used on high altitude aircraft, weather balloons, sounding rockets, etc. Potential commercial applications of this technology include any system that would use an INS system, including commercial aircraft during high altitude cruise.