Space Inspiration

How Trevor Mahlmann rocketed into a career as a photographer 07-01-2020 |  5 minutes


In the second of our chats with our Flight 250 guest photographers, Trevor Mahlmann tells us how he got started and what he loves about launches.

I think space is just the coolest. The first space memory I have is watching a launch in 2011 on TV. It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided I wanted to be an astronaut someday or do something in the field of space — and here I am photographing launches from iconic pads!

Space exploration seems like the epitome of human ingenuity to me. It is incredibly challenging and takes teamwork and cooperation between tons of people, and I think it is really amazing to both witness and have the privilege to photograph.

I started during my freshman year of college at Purdue University in 2014! I went to my first rocket launch that fall and loved taking photos around the beautiful campus, and it just snowballed into finding what I love to do — I stopped school in 2017 and have done it full-time since then!

Rocket launches are so exciting and such an adrenaline rush! There is a lot of stress to deal with in terms of scheduling travel to them and delays with them or their payloads, but I think it’s all worth it when you see them leap off the pad.

Delays are the biggest challenge! You’ll always encounter bad weather, or dew, or cameras that just don’t work — but scheduling conflicts or other obligations and not being able to be there is the worst!!

Ideal launch is pre-dawn, around 45 minutes before sunrise, heading towards the sunrise – watching the rocket ascend through the atmosphere and the sun begins to illuminate the plume as it expands due to the lower pressure.

My best memory of the VA250 mission was when John Kraus and I were climbing to the top of the flame trench to look at our cameras and discovering that 1, our cameras were alive but 2, and most importantly, the pictures were captured successfully!