SpaceX’s tenth launch of the year went off seemingly without a hitch on Tuesday as it launched a recycled Falcon 9 rocket with five Iridium satellites atop it into orbit, but a renowned NASA photographer’s $3,500 camera was melted in the process.
Bill Ingalls set up a remote camera to capture the launch, but the Canon 5DS DSLR and pricey L lens used for the close-up got melted as the result of a fire.
However, the expensive camera prove to be worth its price tag, as it continued taking pictures until the moment of its destruction.
SpaceX had tenth launch of the year when it sent a Falcon 9 rocket with five Iridium satellites atop it into orbit. However, renowned NASA photographer Bill Ingalls’ remote camera was melted during the launch
‘Well, one remote cam outside the pad perimeter was found to be a bit toast(y). Sigh,’ Ingalls wrote on Facebook. ‘And yes, it made pix until its demise.’
He also explained the camera was not very close to the launch pad, but was destroyed due to a small bush fire.
‘I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe,’ Ingalls wrote.
‘This was result of a small brush fire, which is not unheard of from launches, and was extinguished by fireman, albeit, after my cam was baked.’
Also on board the recycled Falcon 9 rocket was a pair of US-German science satellites that will track the earth’s water and gravitational field to better understand the effects of climate change.
However, the expensive camera prove to be worth its price tag, as it continued taking pictures until the moment of its destruction. Pictured: The last frame captured before the device ‘bit the dust’
‘Reason for toasty remote camera, GRACE-FO, May 22, 2018’ Ingalls posted on Facebook. The camera was destroyed as a result of a bush fire near the perimeter of the launch pad
The rocket roared off from a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 12.47pm and arced over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles as it headed toward the South Pole.
Its upper stage deployed the NASA satellites, which are a collaboration with the German Research Center for Geosciences, minutes after reaching orbit.
‘Liftoff for GRACE Follow-On, continuing the legacy of the GRACE mission of tracking the movement of water across our planet,’ the firm confirmed in a livestream of the launch.
‘That’s a beautiful launch,’ a SpaceX announcer said during the livestream.
The satellites for Iridium Communications’ next-generation fleet were released in a process completed a little more than an hour after liftoff.
The Falcon 9’s first stage was previously used for the launch of a classified intelligence satellite, called Zuma, from Florida in January.
SpaceX’s 10th launch of the year went off without a hitch on Tuesday, as Elon Musk’s rocket company successfully blasted off five more Iridium satellites into space
SpaceX did not attempt to recover it this time.
The firm did attempt to recover the rocket’s payload fairing, or nose cone, using the ‘Mr Steven’ boat, which is described a giant webbed catcher’s mitt.
Mr Steven nearly caught the $6 million payload fairing but ended up missing it again.
‘We came very close. We’re going to keep working on that,’ a SpaceX employee said during the livestream.
WHY DOES SPACEX RE-USE ROCKETS AND OTHER PARTS?
SpaceX tries to re-use rockets, payload fairings, boosters and other parts to try to cut down on the cost of each rocket mission.
The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).
The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules.
The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.
In an incredible accomplishment, the Falcon Heavy’s reused side boosters landed smoothly back down to Earth on two separate launchpads about 8 minutes in.
SpaceX is currently testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.
The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft’s payload.
SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017.
During its first Falcon Heavy launch in February 2018, the firm landed two of the firms side boosters simultaneously on separate launchpads.
The science payload included two identical satellites for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Follow On mission, continuing the work of two predecessor spacecraft that spanned 15 years ending last October.
The GRACE mission will detect the movement of Earth’s water masses and changes in mass within the planet by measuring variations in gravity through tiny fluctuations in the distance between the two satellites as they orbit 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart – roughly the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego – at an altitude of about 304 miles (490 kilometers).
The constant mapping of the gravity field reveals changes in Earth’s ice sheets, aquifers, lakes and sea level.