Claim: Viral posts on social media claim that China has launched an artificial sun into space
After our independent investigation into this claim, we rate the claim as false.
Several images and videos have gone viral on social media claiming that China has launched an artificial sun into space.
In these posts, a crowd can be seen at a beach filming with awe and excitement a round, shining, yellowish object ascending into the sky.
One of such videos, which has been posted on Twitter, has attracted over 400k views with over 3,000 users retweeting the post.
Similar posts have also been made on Facebook, with a caption partly reading “China’s space program is breaking records and making history. Just recently, China successfully launched its artificial sun..”
Recently, China successfully completed the first test of its nuclear fission reactor, known as “Artificial sun.”
The project is dubbed “Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)”.
A 31st December 2021 publication by China’s official state press agency, Xinhua, reported that the test had set a new world record after its temperature rose about five times hotter than the sun for more than 17 minutes.
Xinhua’s publication indicated that the project was located in the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP).
In several publications about the “artificial sun” test that was analyzed by Dubawa, some of which have been reproduced in this report, none suggested that it was undertaken outdoors.
Meanwhile, Dubawa found a similar video on Chinese microblogging website, Weibo. The only difference from the viral ones was the angle from which the video was taken.
The post was made on December 24 and its caption was in Chinese.
The caption, when translated, reads “The rocket launch site, let us witness the great power of China’s aerospace.”
Screenshot of the December 24 post on Weibo
Following this lead, Dubawa consulted a 23rd December 2021 publication on www.nasaspaceflight.com.
The publication indicated that China had launched a “pair of satellites called Shiyan-12-01 and Shiyan-12-02 on board a Chang Zheng 7A rocket at 10:12 UTC. The pair of satellites launched to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China.”
This is corroborated by China state-affiliated media, China Fact, on Twitter.
A video, uploaded on YouTube, showing the launch of the rocket, bears similarities with the viral video claiming that the “artificial sun” had been launched into space.
It is not true that China has launched an artificial sun into space. Dubawa has undertaken an independent investigation into the claim and has found it to be false.
This report was produced under the Dubawa Student Fact-checking Project aimed at offering students in tertiary schools aspiring to take up roles in the profession the opportunity to acquire real-world experience through verification and fact-checking.