The Optical Instrumentation Suite consists of a variety of optical tracking systems and facilities throughout White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). The equipment and facilities are ultimately responsible for producing Time Space Position Information (TSPI), visual information and Radiometric analysis on a wide variety of aerial and ground targets. The Optics Branch consists of both Government and Contractor support elements. The Government contingent operates Kineto Tracking Mounts (KTM) as well as three Remote Instrument Control Systems (RICS) and the Optics Remote Control Acquisition (ORCA); both are used to control the KTMs remotely. The Contractor personnel operate a group of KTMs and an additional ORCA system. The Contractor is also responsible for the operation of the non-track camera systems used primarily at launcher and impact sites, KTM depot-level maintenance, and the visual information and media transfer facilities.
The KTM systems are equipped with long focal length lenses, analog video cameras, high-speed digital cameras, infrared video systems, and digital recording systems. These systems are usually remotely operated at a hazard-safe distance from either and ORCA or RICS control van. Due to the size of WSMR and the number of missions executed, it is necessary to move the KTMs and their associated control systems around the range almost daily. There are three different configurations of the KTMs used at WSMR, each with a different number of sensor platforms and capabilities, the Multi-mode Automatic Tracking System (MAT), Launch Area Theodolite (LAT) and the Triple platform mount (TPM).
The non-track or fixed cameras are used even more than the tracking systems. The non-track cameras are typically set up around the launcher and impact sites. The inventory of equipment includes high-speed digital, analog video and streak cameras as well as video streamers and recording devices. The cameras can be used to collect simple "event" type pictures or data that can be used to produce TSPI solutions.
Recent modernization efforts for optics include the elimination of film and the digital conversion of optical systems to interface with the WSMR network. Use of film has been eliminated and replaced with digital cameras. The effort is on-going to convert the KTMs and control systems to digital, making it possible to link them via a WSMR-wide network. Once completed this will increase the operational capabilities and make the setups more flexible because they will not be restricted to line-of-site connections.