NASA Camera Melts During A SpaceX Rocket Launch

Posted: May 25 2018, 6:11am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA Camera Melts During a SpaceX Rocket Launch
Credit: Bill Ingalls

One of the six NASA cameras destroyed in a fire sparked by the launch

On Tuesday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched into the space from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. The commercially procured SpaceX rocket was carrying GRACE-FO spacecraft and five Iridium NEXT communications satellites that will be deployed into Earth’s orbit. Although the launch was successful, things have not gone entirely according to the plan. A NASA camera was destroyed in the process.

The camera belonged to NASA’s veteran photographer Bill Ingalls who was present to capture the rocket launch. Ingalls placed his camera Canon DSLR about a quarter mile or over 400 meters away from SpaceX's pad, called Space Launch Complex 4E. As the SpaceX Falcon 9 took off, the ferocious heat from the rocket melted the camera covering the event. However, it managed to capture an incredibly detailed view of fired-up rocket as it blasted into the space.

There were actually five more cameras positioned in the area surrounding the launch pad and all of them remained safe and unharmed. Only one camera caught fire. It turned out that proximity was not responsible for the damage. The camera was melted in a brushfire sparked by the launch.

“Well, one remote cam outside the pad perimeter was found to be a bit toast(y), and yes – it made pix until (its) demise." Ingalls wrote in a Facebook post after the incident. “I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe. This was result of a small brush fire, which is not unheard of from launches, and was extinguished by fireman, albeit, after my cam was baked.”

This is the first time that photographer Bill Ingalls has damaged a camera during a launch, despite the fact that he has been capturing pictures since 1989.

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