Navigation: Sailing by Satellite

With long-range navigational aids (LORAN), ships at sea can plot their locations to within one nautical mile. Under clear skies on a calm ocean, a good navigator can take an equally accurate fix with a sextant. But nothing does the job as well as the Navy's all-weather Transit satellite navigational system, which can pinpoint a ship's position to about 300 ft. Until now, Transit has been classified because it guides the Polaris missile submarine fleet, but last week the Government released it for use by any U.S. merchant ship.

Transit operates on a simple principle: once a satellite's location...

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