SpaceX Inspiration4 made history on Thursday when it blasted off with the first-ever all-civilian rocket crew, and Morinville’s Tyler Ferguson was there shooting the whole thing.
While the crew returned to solid ground after a three-day tour, Ferguson is still flying high from the adventure.
“It was just unreal, let me tell you. It was one of the one of the coolest experiences I've ever been able to do in person,” he rhapsodized. “It was just awesome.”
The 31-year-old had his friend Zachary Aubert to thank for the experience. The Edmontonian Aubert runs the Launch Pad, a YouTube channel dedicated to space and space travel. This is where Jared Isaacman, Inspiration4’s commander, made his first public interview on the mission.
Isaacman, well aware of Aubert’s enthusiasm and professionalism, invited the blogger to film the launch, though it would have required the purchase of expensive camera equipment to produce a proper short-form documentary. Ferguson, seeing an opportunity, convinced his friend to bring him along.
“Basically, I said to him, ‘Zack … rather than spending thousands of dollars on production equipment, why don't you spend a third of that, or even an eighth of that, and bring me along? I have everything that you need, and I love what you're doing, and I love what you're about.’ I said, ‘Let me be a part of it.’”
Aubert and Ferguson have worked on other projects in the past — none this momentous in terms of subject matter, but also in terms of setup. One of the biggest logistical issues, Ferguson continued, was making sure they had not only the right equipment, but enough equipment to last through the duration of the live stream, including coverage throughout the day.
"For me, being from Canada, obviously, the challenge is what can you take on a plane. You can't take lithium batteries over 100 megawatts onto a plane. If you're looking at bringing an inverter or a battery booster pack of some sort, it's not going to be the kind that you can use for five, six hours."
His solution: multiple batteries, along with two large-format hard drives to record in log format for its super high quality. For the live stream, they had to be prepared in different ways. They had to be set up around 4 p.m. even though the launch window wasn't going to be open until 8. The problem there was about more than waiting.
"You have to think about being in Florida — being in the heat — because heat is the worst enemy for technology. The first day that we ran our test on that Tuesday, the computer overheated and shut down. We had no wind. I was like, 'Man, if this launch goes during three, four o'clock, we're done.' Luckily, it ended up being a night launch, and so the temperature was not an issue at all."
The launch was spectacular, he enthused.
"It was such a privilege to be able to go and to be a part of this. It's definitely something that I want to be able to do again," he continued, noting his love of space. "Covering it in this way was unlike anything I've experienced before. When you finish it, it felt like I had done the job part, and now I can let my emotions catch up to me. And it was just incredible."
While Ferguson returned, Aubert moved on to Houston to visit Starcamp and check out the progress on Starship, SpaceX's fully reusable rocket.Indeed, one good return deserves another. The plan for the two filmmakers is to make the trip back to Florida in November to film the launch of the Artemis mission, NASA's big return to the moon.