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NASA Camera Gets Toasted By A Brush Fire During SpaceX Rocket Launch

May 25, 2018 11:45 PM EDT
NASA Photographer's Burnt Camera
A bushfire resulting from the SpaceX rocket launch burnt a photographer's camera to a crisp on May 22.
(Photo : Bill Ingalls | NASA)

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls found himself one camera short when a bushfire burnt his remote camera to a crisp during a SpaceX rocket launch.

Surprisingly, the toasted equipment still managed to capture a great still of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket's takeoff on Tuesday, May 22. It even managed to record its own demise.

A Toasty Camera

The veteran photographer took to social media to share a photo of the damaged camera as well as two other shots of the images it managed to take before getting completely toasted.

"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," Ingalls wrote on the caption.

According to a report from, the camera was a Canon DSLR that was positioned roughly a quarter mile from the SpaceX launch pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It's only one of Ingalls' six remote cameras set up around the perimeter to document the important flight. Four of these cameras were placed much closer to the launch pad.

"I had six remotes, two outside the launch pad safety perimeter and four inside," Ingalls says in a statement from NASA.

Luckily, despite the bushfire accident, even the burnt camera managed to do its job, capturing a stunning frame of the rocket's takeoff.

A bushfire resulting from the SpaceX rocket launch burnt a photographer's camera to a crisp on May 22, 2018.
(Photo : Bill Ingalls | NASA) A bushfire resulting from the SpaceX rocket launch burnt a photographer's camera to a crisp on May 22.

Plus, the camera even managed to capture exactly how it met its end, with a flash of smoke and fire, as seen in a short clip shared by NASA.

The camera recorded the quickly spreading bush fire that eventually destroyed it.
(Photo : Bill Ingalls | NASA) The camera recorded the quickly spreading bushfire that eventually destroyed it.

About The NASA Launch

Despite the slight hiccup with their photographer's camera, the mission was actually all about NASA's pair of satellites that's dedicated to observing water movement on Earth and other changes in the planet's mass.

The mission, called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On or GRACE-FO, has the car-sized satellites taking over after the original pair of GRACE satellites went offline in 2017 following 15 years of operations, a press release from NASA reveals.

"GRACE-FO will provide unique insights into how our complex planet operates," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, explains. "Just as important, because the mission monitors many key aspects of the Earth's water cycle, GRACE-FO data will be used throughout the world to improve people's lives — from better predictions of drought impacts to higher quality information on use and management of water from underground aquifers."

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