The missing link – Found!
They say that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This has been true of the photographic coverage of the Shuttle launches where, surrounded by the latest technology, the retrieval of images from remote cameras close to the launch site had been slowed down because photographers were forced to wait for hours after lift-off before retrieving the cameras.
However, attempting to improve its service by speeding up the delivery of important images, the Reuters team in the US has worked over a number of years with camera manufacturer Canon and wireless provider Sprint Mobile Broadband to offer a solution. Images from the four cameras using short telephoto lenses and set up within a few hundred yards of the launch pad were sent via wireless internet at super-fast data speeds using a uniquely designed transmitter from Canon. The images were received and passed on to editing desks from the cameras in near real time, as opposed to the hours taken in the past.
These two photographs show the set-up in place near the launch pad.
This set-up together with software developed by Reuters to receive, edit and transmit photographs has reduced the time it has taken from image retrieval from the launch pad cameras to transmission on the Reuters wire by 95 percent.
The system was used successfully for the past two launches of Atlantis and Endeavour on February 7 and March 11, 2008. Here are two photographs, taken using the system, of the March 11 launch.