Image: Lucasfilm & 20th Century Fox/ Wikipedia

Spoiler Alert: This post reveals a sub-theme in the most recent Star Wars film. If you don’t want to know anything at all about the movie, you should not have even read our headline. You should certainly not read further than here.  

Navigation is essential for all phases of military and civilian operations. Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) problems are essential to the story arc of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which opened yesterday.

The first challenge is finding the enemy’s position. No easy task in limitless space and when they are seriously trying to stay hidden.

Then it’s navigating there through myriad “known and unknown” obstacles and dangers. “Many lives were lost” and much drama are required to find the enemy’s location and the safe route.

Timing is also important. Synchronizing actions across vast distances is essential for the story to unfold as it does.

Also, rebel forces must arrive while the vast enemy fleet is waiting to launch and still penned up. This will give their meager forces at least some chance of prevailing.

The most intense PNT drama comes in the film’s near-final sequences:

  • The rebels arrive in the nick of time!
  • Or do they?  The enormous fleet is just about to launch!
  • But the fleet is still initializing its systems and “won’t know which way is up” (can’t launch) without a navigation signal to orient them!
  • The empire has only one navigation system – a single point of failure! Destroy the transmitter and the day is saved!
  • Tricky empire – they have a second transmitter!
  • Too late the empire learns that while backups are important, you shouldn’t backup one thing with another version of itself. It’s easy for what destroyed your primary to also get your backup.

Well, we won’t spoil the rest of the movie for you. Suffice it to say that defeating the navigation system is essential to the plot.

Like us, the humans and other creatures in the Star Wars saga are corporal beings who exist in space and time. The need for PNT is part of the fabric of their existence. Disrupting PNT is an easy way for rebels and others to disrupt the established order.

So it must be a universal rule.

Strong, resilient and robust PNT architectures are needed to ensure everyone has the PNT they need, when and where they need it.

Otherwise, bad things can happen.

Apologies if this has been too much of a spoiler for some. We couldn’t help ourselves.

By the way, the rebels win.