MAY 29, 2018 4:21 PM PDT

SpaceX's Latest Falcon 9 Launch Melted a Photographer's Camera

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX launched last Tuesday became somewhat famous; not just for sending NASA’s GRACE-FO mission into space, but also because it evidently ‘melted’ one of the DSLR cameras deployed by a photographer to capture footage of the launch.

An image of Ingalls' camera post-fire.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The damaged camera was just one of six that were carefully arranged around the launch site by veteran photographer Bill Ingalls to snag the best photographs possible. Interestingly, it caught on fire despite residing a ‘safe’ distance away from the action at the launch pad.

A statement released by NASA explains how the unfortunate circumstances transpired because of a flash fire that ignited near the camera immediately following the launch.

"I had six remotes, two outside the launch pad safety perimeter and four inside," Ingalls explained.

"Unfortunately, the launch started a grass fire that toasted one of the cameras outside the perimeter."

Related: SpaceX's 'Block 5' Falcon 9 rocket performs flawlessly in first test

As it would seem, brush fires of this magnitude occur more frequently from rocket launches than one might think. The extreme heat expelled by the rocket’s engines, coupled with the very dry greenery surrounding the launch complex, spelled out a recipe for flash ignition.

Firefighter personnel are always close by during rocket launch events and responded to this brush fire just the same as any other, but the camera had already fallen victim to the blaze before they arrived at the scene.

In a stroke of luck, however, the memory card contained within the camera survived the intense heat, enabling Ingalls to study the footage captured by the camera during its early demise.

The footage, embedded below, depicts the rocket taking off from the launch pad and the sudden flare-up resulting from the intense heat. If you look closely, you can make out the camera’s plastic housing as it melts and oozes over the lens.

This GIF image depicts the event where Ingalls' camera caught fire.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Related: Does SpaceX really save money with reusable rockets?

Ingalls doesn’t seem too upset about losing one of his cameras; but as a professional photographer, he’s probably happy to have the resulting footage.

Source: NASA, Bill Ingalls (Facebook)

About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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