Spacefaring vessels often navigate through space via a bearing system that uses figures which relate to two planes around the ship. They include the Azimuth (green) and Elevation (blue)  


Federation starships navigate the galaxy by combining a massive database of information with sophisticated onboard sensors that can pinpoint the vessel's position accurately. The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D was capable of calculating its position relative to the galactic center, or another 'fixed' reference point such as Earth, to within 10 kilometers; even at high warp speeds, the ship could determine its location to within 100 kilometers. In close maneuvering of the kind required when docking, the Enterprise was able to maneuver with distances as accurate as 2.75 centimeters.

Navigational operations on the Enterprise were normally controlled from the conn after the commanding officer had given a destination or heading in one of five ways. The easiest method of giving a heading was to name the destination; as soon as this was inputted into the coon, the ship's computers consulted the navigational database and automatically plotted the ship's trajectory. Destinations range from planets and star systems to orbital facilities. If an area as large as a sector was specified, the Enterprise's computers generated a flight path to the center of that area. It was also common for the conn to be given a moving destination such as another spacecraft. As long as the vessel was within sensor range, the computer could plot an intercept course. This kind of order required the conn officer to input either a velocity or an intercept time, so that the course could be calculated relative to the position of the other craft.

Navigation instructions could also be given by specifying a destination's galactic coordinates; however, this method of navigation was rarely used, as it required personnel to either calculate or look up the relevant coordinate information. Navigational orders were more often given as a relative bearing. This consisted of two figures which related to two perpendicular planes around the Enterprise: the first plane was horizontal, the second vertical. Each plane was divided into 360 degrees, with 0 degrees deemed to be straight ahead.

Thus, if the Enterprise was given a heading of 000 mark 0, it would not change its course. On the horizontal plane, values increased to the starboard; in the vertical plane, they increased in the direction above the ship. A heading of 150 mark 0 therefore meant that the ship would turn 150 degrees to starboard but not tilt up or down, and a heading of 150 mark 20 meant that it would turn 150 degrees to starboard and then angle its nose up by 20 degrees. Navigational orders were also given as a heading. Again, this was given as two figures, but these figures related to two planes around a notional line connecting the Enterprise with the center of the galaxy. A heading of 000 mark 0 was directly toward the galactic center. This system was very similar to that used for navigating on a planet's surface, where headings were taken from the northern pole.