Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Canon EOS with a Rocket

NASA 2018  69.JPG
On April 2nd of this year, I got the once in a lifetime chance to tour the Kennedy Space Center and watch the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket pictured above.  This picture is important to today’s post because it clearly shows what looks like a “garage” in the foreground.  In reality, that is what is called “The Flame Trench”.  It runs in underneath the rocket with openings on either side away from the rocket.  The rocket actually sits on the launch pad, but there is an opening that allows for the flames at ignition to go down into the Flame Trench where they are deflected away so that they don’t damage anything.  As you can imagine, there is a tremendous amount of heat generated at liftoff and The Flame Trench deflects the flame and heat away from the rocket so that it is not damaged.
One of the things that I was really amazed by as I got a chance to walk around the launch pad and see things up close, was the number of cameras that professional photographers had received permission to setup.  They were all somehow remote controlled to take photos as the rocket was launched.  You can see a fence in the picture above.  The next photo was taken with my back to that fence and you can see the line of cameras that were set up to capture the launch.
NASA 2018  61.JPG
I asked one of our guides if the cameras ever get damaged and was told it happens, but isn’t common.  Usually it comes from a small piece of debris that is kicked up by the thrust (something like a piece of gravel) that strikes a camera (that’s why many of them are in protective boxes or wrapped in protective covers).  Personally I would have thought it would be from the heat, but apparently the pros know where to place the cameras to prevent that from happening.
However, like anything in life, Murphy gets to have his say.  At a recent launch, the heat from ignition created a small brush fire.  The good news is that the firefighters at the scene quickly extinguished the small blaze.  The bad news was they did not stop it fast enough to prevent the damage to the Canon 5DS shown in the photo below.  The Canon 5DS is a great DSLR and definitely not cheap.  I hope the photographer had insurance.
The Canon was melted beyond repair, but the photos of the launch DID survive.  Below are a pic of the launch the camera took before the fire and also the last photo the camera took before it was engulfed.  As you can see, in the launch pic, the camera was a fair distance back from the rocket, but you can’t always account for every potential scenario.  This is just a terrible stroke of bad luck.
Last photo.jpg

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