Fake photo of William Shatner does not prove he didn’t go into space

26 October 2021
What was claimed

A photo of William Shatner in uniform for the Blue Origin space mission was clearly photoshopped using an image of Jeff Bezos in the same uniform. This is proof the mission didn’t happen.

Our verdict

This one photo does not prove anything. The image is faked, but that doesn’t mean the space mission was. There is extensive footage of Shatner before the launch, in space and after landing.

A Facebook post claims a photo of Star Trek actor William Shatner in uniform for the launch of the Blue Origin space mission is a fake, and says this shows the launch itself was “obviously faked” too. 

Earlier this month Mr Shatner, who famously played Captain Kirk in the iconic sci-fi TV series, was chosen to join the crew of the NS-18, a suborbital shuttle launched by Blue Origin which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. 

The Facebook post includes four images. The first two show Mr Bezos in his uniform for the Blue Origin space launch and next to him what appears to be Mr Shatner in the exact same uniform. The photos highlight that each of their uniforms have the same creases. 

Beneath these are two more pictures of Mr Shatner, a close-up photo of him in the Blue Origin suit zoomed into his face and another close-up of him at another event with the exact same expression. The post suggests the picture of Mr Shatner’s head from this other photo was superimposed onto Jeff Bezos’s body wearing the Blue Origin suit. 

This hoax, the post suggests, serves as proof the entire space mission was also faked. 

The post is correct to suggest that the image of Mr Shatner in uniform has been digitally altered. Blue Origin confirmed to Full Fact that the image is “not real” and was not taken by Blue Origin as part of its official images of the NS-18 crew. 

The image of Mr Bezos in the post however is real, and was taken for the first launch by Blue Origin in July 2021. 

The original image of Mr Shatner was taken at the 2017 premiere of the TV show Star Trek Discovery.

While we can’t be certain who created the digitally altered image of Mr Shatner in uniform, it was published by The Sun on 5 October when it was first announced he would be joining the crew of the NS-18. At this point it does not appear that any photos of Mr Shatner in a Blue Origin suit were published at this time. 

We have asked The Sun to confirm the source of the image it published, and will update this fact check when it responds. 

There is lots of other evidence the launch did take place

There is extensive footage and photography taken for the press before the launch, of the launch itself, in space and of the landing, all of which feature Mr Shatner.

A live webstream of the launch has been watched 1.3 million times since it was broadcast on 13 October 2021. Blue Origin has also published key mission statistics on its website, including the launch time and maximum ascent velocity. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because the post does not prove that the Blue Origin mission was faked.

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