The coude beams from a pair of 1.5 meter telescopes are recombined to achieve coherent aperture synthesis. The spherical telescopes move along a 70-meter baseline, expandable to 300 meters. For the VLT, a grid of railway tracks with 2-D carriages meets the requirements for incoherent and coherent observing.
Steps in the design and construction of a coherent telescope array have been described previously (Labeyrie, 1982, 1984). In 1975, it was first verified that stellar light from two telescopes could be recombined coherently. In 1978, it was decided to develop spherical mounts for 1.5-meter telescopes. Among the expected features were: 1. coude focus with only one flat mirror; 2. wheels for mobility along railway tracks; 3. structural stiffness for interferometric stability, also implying vibration amplitudes inferior to 0.1 micrometer at each reflective surface. This last and most critical requirement implies materials which have to be stiff and also damped.