SpaceX blasts off Iridium, NASA satellites in 10th launch this year

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 27, 2018

The satellites were launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, and Ingalls chose to put his camera in harm's way for the chance to snap a one-of-a-kind photo.

If you're shooting photos of a space rocket launch, the risk to damage equipment is all too real, as one NASA photographer demonstrated this week.

As Ingalls told Space.com Wednesday, the camera was a quarter-mile from the launchpad and outside a safety perimeter.

The camera also captured the blaze that followed the launch.

Exhibit A is the melted Canon 5DS DSLR camera you can see in the picture above, by Bill Ingalls.

Thankfully it sounds like Ingalls has a number of other cameras at the ready, and his photos from different angles of the launch are already available on the NASA HQ Photo Flickr page.

But many folks got it wrong, suggesting that - like the mythical Icarus flying too close to the sun - Ingalls must have placed his camera too close to the rocket and got burned. Bill Ingalls, NASA photographer has experienced this firsthand as he lost his valuable camera kit during the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch.

Ingalls did manage to retrieve the memory card from his destroyed Canon 5D (worth US$3,500 for the body only in case you were wondering), which kept snapping up until its fiery demise.

"The Vandenberg Fire Department put the fire out pretty quickly, but unfortunately my camera got toasted" before they got to it, Ingalls said.

But he discovered one DSLR, positioned outside the pad perimeter, melted.

Ingalls actually had four other remote cameras closer to the launch pad, all of which came out unscathed. It was just unlucky to end up in the middle of a brush fire.

The photos from Ingalls' unlucky camera are reminiscent of those from another recent rocket launch in which an amateur photographer's camera lens was destroyed by the fury of an Atlas V rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral. He says in the post that the camera managed to capture images until the end of its life.

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