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21 February 2003 A decade of VLTI technical development
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Following the successful VLTI 'First Fringes' obtained in 2001 with the siderostats and with the 8m telescopes and based on the results from the commissioning phase, it is now possible to review with a critical eye the development approach followed over the last ten years and to draw a few conclusions. We first recall this approach that aimed at minimizing the risk of not meeting the stringent requirements imposed by interferometry. This approach is based on the elaboration of exhaustive error budgets, an extensive set of analyses and early tests with feedback on subsystem specs, the performance characterization at subsystem level with identification of improvements when needed; and finally the commissioning of the complete VLTI at system level. To illustrate this process, we provide practical examples taken from the project's history. We focus on two areas that have been considered among the most critical ones over the entire project life, namely: the turbulence inside the interferometer arms ('internal seeing') and the mechanical vibrations ('OPD stability'). For these two areas, we will finally compare the performances predicted during the development phase with those obtained at Paranal and we will draw conclusions.
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Bertrand Koehler, Samuel A. Leveque, and Philippe B. Gitton "A decade of VLTI technical development", Proc. SPIE 4838, Interferometry for Optical Astronomy II, (21 February 2003);

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