NASA Reveals Unusual Reason Camera Melted 400 Yards Away From SpaceX Launch

“At least got a frame before the camera bit the dust”

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls this week lamented the loss of his remote camera, which melted in a fire sparked by Tuesday's SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. But when Ingalls went to retrieve one of his remote camera setups afterwards, the 30-year veteran of NASA photography was surprised to find firefighters huddled around what he now calls his "Toasty" camera.

Interestingly enough, of the 6 remote cameras that Ingalls set up, only the one farthest from the launch pad was damaged at all.

Moments later, the camera was engulfed in flames, as exhibited in one final image (which, in my opinion, is just as awe-inspiring as the others). But the memory card was still intact.

Remarkably, the pictures survived and captured some shots of the launch as well as the fire responsible for destroying the camera.

"I had six remotes, two outside the launch pad safety perimeter and four inside", said Ingalls, who has been shooting for the space agency for three decades.

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The event he was photographing was the launch of the NASA/German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) satellite, which took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 22nd, 2018.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch leads to the fiery death of this NASA camera. Recognizing the camera was destroyed, Ingalls forced open the body to see if its memory card could be salvaged. As the camera is overwhelmed by the inferno, its plastic casing is seen melting over the lens until the camera stops recording. As part of a partnership between NASA and the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), this satellite is the successor to the original GRACE mission, which began orbiting Earth on March 17th, 2002.

Thankfully, it is not the end for the piece of kit, which will receive posthumous glory as it is likely to be displayed at the NASA headquarters in Washington DC.

In the meantime, Ingalls will be traveling to Kazakhstan to photograph the June 3rd landing of the International Space Station's Expedition 55 crew.

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