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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 13, 2022

No, this isn’t footage of China launching a fake sun into space

If Your Time is short

  • A nuclear fusion reactor in China known as an "artificial sun" recently set a record for sustained high temperatures, but this happened indoors. Footage circulating online of a glowing orb rising in the sky actually shows a rocket launch in the country, not a fake sun. 

A video that’s being shared on social media shows a crowd of people gathered on a beach and holding their phones in the air to record a glowing orb rising in the distance. 

"Apparently China launched its ‘Artificial Sun’ into space," a Jan. 11 Instagram post sharing the video said. "This world is getting scary."

"Sooooo nobody’s talking about China making a fake sun," a Jan. 11 Facebook post said

"Did China really create a fake sun?" another post asked.

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

China does have something called an "artificial sun." It’s a nuclear fusion reactor — officially named the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak — that recently set a record for sustained high temperatures after running five times hotter than the sun for more than 17 minutes, according to the Independent, which cited state media in China. It’s one of three "artificial suns" being developed in China in hopes of providing "almost limitless clean energy," the story says — and they’re all indoors.  

The footage that is wrongly being characterized as showing China launching a fake sun appears to actually show a late December rocket launch from the Wenchang Space Launch Center. 

An English translation of a Dec. 24 Weibo post from a similar vantage point on the beach says: "The rocket launch site, let us witness the great power of China’s aerospace." 

We rate the claims that China launched an artificial sun into space False.

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No, this isn’t footage of China launching a fake sun into space

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