RIP NASA Photographer's Camera That Melted During a Rocket Launch

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If you’re planning to watch a rocket launch this summer (and I highly suggest you do), remember to bring plenty of snacks, a book, and flame-resistant clothing.

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.

“Well, one remote cam outside the pad perimeter [at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California] was found to be a bit toast(y),” Ingalls joked in a Facebook post.

One of six remote shooters chronicling the launch of NASA’s twin GRACE-FO satellites, the Canon DSLR was reportedly placed about a quarter mile from Space Launch Complex 4E, according to

“I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe,” Ingalls said, setting the record straight about equipment placement. “This was the result of a small brush fire, which is not unheard of from launches, and was extinguished by [firemen], albeit, after my cam was baked.”

This is the first time the veteran photographer lost a camera to a launch in 29 years. He usually fears debris—flying rocks that can damage or destroy equipment.

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission continues the agency’s legacy of tracking Earth’s water movement across the planet.

Two GRACE-FO satellites were hurtled into space Tuesday, riding to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket—which Ingalls managed to capture in a stunning shot during liftoff.

“At least [it] got a frame before the camera bit the dust” (via NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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).

“Reason for toasty remote camera” (via NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Since Ingalls shared the devastating news on Tuesday, his Facebook post has received more than 1.5 thousand reactions (76 cruel people responded with the laughing face), nearly 1,500 shares, and 270-plus comments—some offering condolences for his loss.

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