Navigational Bearings

Navigational bearings describe the direction of an object relative to the vessel and thereby the vessel's orientation to that object.

Orientation is a critical factor for a number of operational areas. For example it describes which parts of the vessel are vulnerable to incoming fire, which of the vessel’s own weapons can be brought to bear against an object or which sensor systems are aligned to scan an object.

Orbital Plane Alignment

Navigation best-practise recommends that vessels align their orientation to a star system's orbital plane. This provides a frame of reference for maneuvering and minimises disorientation especially for crew without extensive navigational experience.

The vessel's navigation system automatically applies this orientation alignment.


A vessel's direction of travel is described as a heading. Headings are calculated against galactic normal, expressed as the number of degrees variation between heading directly towards galactic normal (zero degrees) and the vessel’s actual direction of travel.


Bearing example. In this case a negative (starboard) bearing.A bearing expresses a direction relative to the bow of the vessel (instead of relative to galactic normal). It is used to express the orientation of an object in surrounding space relative to the vessel. This is often a more intuitive way of expressing a TSMO’s relative position rather than its grid co-ordinates.

Unlike headings, bearings are not expressed as values up to 360° but as positive or negative values up to +/-180°. A bearing to port always has a positive value. A bearing to starboard is always has a negative value.

Because bearings are relative to the vessel, they are also used to describe the extent of any change in the vessel’s direction caused by a maneuver. The bearing is simply added to the vessel's previous heading to give the new heading.

Vertical Bearing (Vector)

A vertical bearing or vector is a vertical direction or describes the “climb” a maneuver produces. The vector is the change in direction around the Y-axis relative to the vessel’s bow.

In order to retain orbital plane alignment, the vessel automatically resumes a zero vector at the completion of any maneuver witth a Z value.

Vector exampleVectors cannot exceed +/- 90°. In order to retain orbital plane alignment a loop/roll maneuver would be required to achieve excess vectors. Such maneuvers are not supported by thrust output vectors of the impulse engines.

Navigational best-practise recommends vector maneuvers are minimised. There are tactical advantages to being above or below a TSMO during combat, but otherwise consistent Z-axis maneuvering (away from the orbital plane) is of little value and risks disorientation.

Relationship with Headings

Vectors are not included in headings. At the end of each maneuver, the vessel will re-orient istelf to the oribtal plane. Headings therefore always have a Z-axis value of zero.