[Editor's note: This story is the first installment of a three-part outlook series which appears in the December 2018 edition of Oil and Gas Investor. Subscribe to the magazine here.]
In January 2018, NASA demonstrated something new, even radical: autonomous X-ray navigation using millisecond pulsars to determine the location of an object moving at thousands of miles per hour in space. The agency said this technological first could revolutionize its ability to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system someday.
NASA called its experimental tool SEXTANT (Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology), after the ancient instrument sailors used to navigate the Seven Seas.