Fake news from SpaceX: The company was convicted of publishing unreliable satellite images

Astro Enthusiasts have convicted SpaceX of publishing an unreliable image. It demonstrates a batch of Starlink satellites above the Earth.

The image of the Starlink satellites above the Earth published by SpaceX, which is actually made up of two different photos

The image was attached to a message on the social network X, in which the company announced its intention to prematurely de-orbit one hundred Starlink satellites of one of the early generations. Engineers have identified a problem that can lead to a malfunction that will make it impossible to control the devices. To avoid the risk of clogging the near-Earth orbit, the company decided to terminate their operation ahead of time.

However, it was not the news itself that attracted the attention of many users, but an image of the deployment of Starlink satellites that illustrated it. It looked too “high-quality” compared to the usual images of such broadcasts.

The original and redesigned SpaceX photo of Earth with the added batch of Starlink satellites

As a result, astro enthusiasts conducted a small investigation, during which they quickly established that this was a composite image made up of two different photos. The first one was made in a SpaceX clean room. It showed a batch of Starlink satellites ready for launch.

Batch of Starlink satellites. Source: SpaceX

The second image was received on December 12, 2021, from the ISS. Its author is German astronaut Matthias Maurer. He photographed Southeast Asia through the porthole of the station.

Photo of the Earth taken from the ISS on December 12, 2021. Source: NASA

One of the SpaceX employees took it and replaced the Soyuz spacecraft in the frame with a Starlink. Why the company had to go to such a forgery when it has real photos of the Starlink deployment remains unclear.

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