Bill Ingalls who have been working for NASA for last 30 years has reported some interesting and unusual thing that took place on 22nd May 2018. He was there to capture the image of a 230-foot-tall SpaceX rocket which was launched on that day from the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base located in California.
He had placed that cameras near the launchpad. The cameras are designed in such a way that they will capture images after detecting the thunderous roar of the rocket. Unfortunately, the launch developed a grass fire which destroyed one of his cameras outside the launch pad. Ingalls informed that he had six remotes, four were placed inside the perimeter and two were placed at the safety perimeter. The fire reached the camera and melted the camera body. Then the camera was recovered by firefighters. Ingalls then tried to open the camera to check if the memory card is working or not. Fortunately, it was in working condition.
On that day, SpaceX launched five telecommunication satellites and two NASA’s gravity-mapping satellites into the Earth’s lower orbit. It was good for Space X and NASA but, a bad day for Ingalls. At the end of the launch, he got a toasty camera but all the images have survived.
In his Facebook account, Ingalls stated “I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe. This was the result of a small brush fire, which is not unheard of from launches, and was extinguished by fireman, albeit after my cam was baked.” However, the strange thing is that the four cameras which were placed inside the launch perimeter were discovered undamaged. But the camera which was placed furthers from the launch pad.
As per the sources, the high heat produced from the launch lighted California flora. The fire them ripped through the plants and caught the camera, melted camera’s plastic body. Ingalls further stated that in the misshape he lost one Canon EOS 5Ds camera body, a Canon 24-105mm lens, and a tripod. All were NASA’s property. The camera setup also consisted of a remote-triggering mechanism box and a microphone. If talking about the cost, the new setup will cost around $5,000.
Ingalls in an email stated he doesn’t know if the damaged camera of NASA is insured or not but NASA will replace the damaged unit with a new one soon. The camera, however, managed to save some precious photos like its fiery doom and Falcon 9 rocket blasting off from the launchpad. Just a few days ago, NASA published a footage showing all the photos taken by Ingalls camera. For now, the camera will be displayed at NASA’s headquarter situated in Washington, DC.
Commenting on this NASA stated that once the fire reached the camera, it was quickly engulfed it. The body started to melt. When Ingalls returned to the site, firefighters were waiting to greet him. Recognizing the camera was destroyed, Ingalls forced open the body to see if its memory card could be salvaged. It could, which is how we can see the fire approaching the camera.
On the other side, some have started giving their opinion on this and stated the reason of such accident.
One of the reasons for this was, Ingalls tried to get his remote camera as close as possible to the Falcon 9 launch pad to capture close-up images. The whole incident shows the unfortunate result of an attempt at an extreme closeup.
Peter King, commenting on this twitted that NASA photographer Bill Ingalls is one of the best. He tries to get his remote cameras as close to the launch pad as possible for great results. This would illustrate the unfortunate result of an attempt at an extreme closeup. Not sure this is covered by warranty.
However, it’s not for the first time that Ingalls has had lost a camera in such launch event. In the year 1995, Ingalls was in Kazakhstan. He was there to capture the photos of the launch event of a Soyuz rocket for the Mir Space station. In that event, he lost his Hasselblad camera, which was placed only 10 feet away from him. The incident caused by the rocks and one big rock sheared off one side of the camera.
Ingalls has been working with NASA as a photographer for last 30 years and captured many stunning images of rocket launches, landing, presidents, astronauts and many astronomical wonders. Ingalls will travel to Kazakhstan on 3rd June 2018 to capture images of the International Space Station’s Expedition 55 crew.
Talking about the launch, the Falcon 9 carried two NASA Grace-FO mission satellites. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On will study the movement of Earth’s masses. The satellite has developed through a joint venture between NASA and the German Research Centre of Geosciences.