A bed of vegetation, NASA revealed, was to blame for the damage.
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.
When the photo of Ingalls' charred camera first started making the rounds, most reports stated that the camera was placed too close to the launchpad (we initially shared this explanation as well before Ingalls clarified it for us).
One week after social media fell in love with the fact that one of NASA's cameras melted during a recent launch, the USA space agency is telling the tale of what really happened to the infamous melted camera.
"NASA photographer Bill Ingalls has been shooting for the agency for 30 years", the space agency writes. But, when he returned to retrieve it, firefighters were waiting.
The camera was about a quarter-mile from the launch site and interestingly enough, it was the furthest camera from the site.
Ingalls explains that he had six remote locations that included two outside the launch pad and four on the inside. Short for "Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On", Grace-FO will track how mass on Earth is moving around the planet. When the rocket launched, the resulting blast started a fire that quickly spread out beyond the boundaries of the launch zone. As the camera is overwhelmed by the inferno, its plastic casing is seen melting over the lens until the camera stops recording. While the fire destroyed the camera, the memory card survived giving all of us some incredible images.
It's not clearly exactly where the ruined camera is headed next, but Ingalls suggests it will probably be put on display at NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Falcon 9 was carrying two NASA Grace-FO mission satellites, among others.