Last week SpaceX’s launch of Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California started trending on the social media, surprisingly, not because of the launch.
The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, which had two new Earth-observing satellites for NASA and five commercial Iridium communications satellites on board, went off without any technical issue, but, it destroyed a camera which belonged to NASA photographer Bill Ingalls.
While most people assumed that the photographer might have set the camera in question too close to the launch site, it wasn’t the case. Bill Ingalls told NASA that he had set up six remote cameras to cover the launch, two outside the launch pad safety perimeter and four inside. He revealed that it was at the time of the launch that a grass fire engulfed one of the cameras outside the perimeter.
In fact, the four cameras which were set up inside the launch pad safety perimeter were undamaged, as was the other remote, according to NASA. The high-end Canon DSLR camera that got damaged was one of the furthest from the pad, a quarter of a mile away.
Ingalls said that the fire quickly toasted the camera and its body started to melt. When he returned to the site, he saw the firefighters waiting to greet him. He quickly realized the camera was destroyed and he forced open the camera to check if the memory card could be salvaged. Thankfully, the pictures survived and captured some shots of the launch as well as the fire responsible for destroying the camera.
The toasty camera, as referred to by Ingalls, will likely be put on display at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, Ingalls himself will soon make his way to Kazakhstan to cover the June 3 landing of the International Space Station’s Expedition 55 crew in his camera.