I spotted the image below here which I found here (also seen here).

Zooming in on this combination pair of telescope trackers and pair of RHCP and LHCP (right- and left-handed circular polarization) helical antennas, I see the word FlightLine, and a drawing of a shuttle/aircraft of some kind.

I'm really interested in this combination of a pair of optical telescopes and a pair of end-fire antennas, mounted on a single co-articulated platform. What is this, was it really used, who is/was FlightLine?

Though this appears to be either auto-tracking (there are several other instruments co-mounted) or guided by people remotely, I'm still working on the related question What were those motorized human-piloted platforms with helical antennas called (tracking launches)?.

Should I be asking in Aviation SE instead? Is this primarily used for tracking aircraft (thus the image of what looks like an aircraft in the logo)? or is this primarily used to track spacecraft launch vehicles?

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 1
    Reverse image search reveals its something to do with mars- and its russian. habr.com/post/384397 so aeronautics may not be better. That page has russian text and a few other angles of the image. – Magic Octopus Urn Sep 14 at 16:39

Google led me to FlightLine Films' website which describes this device as follows:

JLAIR (Joint Launch vehicle & Aircraft Imaging in Real-time)

The JLAIR 1 & 2 Optical Tracking Systems offer our clients capabilities not previously available to civilians or Production Companies. Each carries a variety of high-power zoom lenses and large telescopes attached to 8000 lb motorized pedestals, which were previously used to track the Space Shuttle launches. The imagers used with the tracking system include HD video, High Speed 4K, Shortwave Infrared, and Digital Still cameras. The system can easily be set up for 35mm motion picture cameras including the Arri 435 or 65 and 70mm cameras including IMAX. The JLAIR control rooms allow technicians to select the best images available, and transmit them in real-time to Mission Control and/or broadcast viewers. The trackers are well suited for tracking high performance aircraft as well as missile and manned launch vehicles.

FlightLine self-describes as a company specialised in "aerospace photography, long-range missile tracking, and high altitude vehicle imaging."

The website lists various events where this system was used, including multiple launches of Blue Origin's New Shepard, as well as Red Bull air races.

  • 1
    Great summary of the information! This article claims that FlightLine operated the equipment themselves at the Blue Origin launch. That brings into question what uhoh means by "really used". Does he want to know if it has been used to track before at all (this would count), or does he want to know if an aerospace customer has actually used this equipment? – called2voyage Sep 14 at 20:08
  • This is very helpful, thank you! I've edited the question a bit to elaborate further on why I find this particular system so interesting, it looks like I posted before completing the though. The addition of the pair of helical antennas is unique, this is the only image of this combination that I've found so far. I've added a link to a related question about that. I don't know if it' possible or not to find a specific reference to the combination of optical and radio together used together for a launch but if so, that would be great to hear more about. – uhoh Sep 15 at 2:10
  • update: I looked once again at your linked page, and suddenly noticed that in fact the image at the top (behind the text) does show the two helical antennas, but in that case they don't appear to block the lower-mounted telescope on the left side of the image in the question. Maybe these are in fact standard? – uhoh Sep 15 at 2:13

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