Memory Card Survived Melted NASA Camera After Rocket Launch

by Keith AlvendiaLeave a Comment

Y'all know I'm a massive space nut if you've been with me for a while.

You also know I'm pretty passionate about cameras and film and photography. So of course this story ties into both.

I've been to launches as well. I used to live in Florida when I was a kid and watched several Apollo launches to the moon. Incredible stuff to see live.

The funny thing is that I don't think any of the articles about this camera melting have the story 100% correct. It looks to me like this was a test firing of a rocket engine and not a “launch” – I don't see any rocket leaving the pad so this was just a test rocket engine firing.

But that doesn't change the story LOL. Melted cameras are cool (as long as they're not yours! HA).

Rocket Launch Ignites Brush Fire and Burns NASA Camera


A camera set up by a NASA photographer, theoretically in a safe zone, to film a rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was consumed in a brush fire caused by the launch May 22. Firefighters on the base were able to contain the fire fairly quickly, but could not save the camera. However the memory card and the photos survived.

“NASA photographer Bill Ingalls has been shooting for the agency for 30 years. His creativity and efforts to get unique images are well known within the agency and to those who follow it. He knows where to set up his cameras, so what explains the view from the camera, as seen in the GIF [below]”

YT video from Web video_2:

“I had six remotes, two outside the launch pad safety perimeter and four inside,” said Ingalls. “Unfortunately, the launch started a grass fire that toasted one of the cameras outside the perimeter.”

Map showing the position of the NASA camera in relation to the launch site. Wildfire Today / Google Earth.

Using the EXIF data on Mr. Ingalls photos we were able to determine the location of the camera. With Google Earth we found the probable site of the launch pad and created this 3-D map that shows the topography in the area. The camera was at the top of a moderately steep brushy slope that, depending on the weather and the amount of fuel available, may have resulted in a fairly hot fire as it reached the camera. The satellite image was acquired in July, 2016

The NASA camera before the rocket launch. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Read full article at “Rocket launch ignites brush fire, burns NASA camera”

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(cover photo credit: snap from

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