Melted NASA camera's memory card survives fire, shows camera as it melts to death

ByDanny Clemens via WTVD logo
Sunday, May 27, 2018
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NASA photographer Bill Ingalls set up six cameras to shoot the May 22 launch of the agency's GRACE-FO mission, but one was overcome by flames when the launch spurred a brush fire.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A NASA camera was overrun by flames as it shot a recent launch, but its photos survived to show its fiery last moments.

The camera in question was one of six that longtime NASA photographer Bill Ingalls set up around Vandenberg Air Force Base to cover the May 22 launch of the agency's GRACE-FO mission. The launch, which took place a quarter of a mile away, ignited a grass fire that quickly spread to the area where the camera was set up and engulfed it in flames.

When Ingalls went to retrieve the camera, he found its body melted, though he managed to remove the memory card from its charred remains.

Footage released by NASA shows several frames of smoke rising from the launch site before orange flames begin to singe nearby vegetation and creep toward the camera. As the camera is overwhelmed by the inferno, its plastic casing is seen melting over the lens until the camera stops recording.

NASA said in a blog post that the melted camera will likely be put on display at its headquarters in Washington. The other five cameras, which ironically were all closer to the launch than the one that burned, were not impacted by the fire.