Fact Check: Downward Motion Of Object On International Space Station Does NOT Indicate An Anti-Gravity Hoax

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Downward Motion Of Object On International Space Station Does NOT Indicate An Anti-Gravity Hoax Not Staged

Did NASA and the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) stage a live stream video pretending to be in zero gravity on board the ISS, and was this hoax betrayed by a blooper where a ball printed like a globe fell to the floor as if under the force of Earth's gravity? No, that's not true: This video shows the crew on board the ISS on Earth Day April 22, 2021. Unsecured objects in the cabin can move in any direction and will float in the direction pushed. In this brief clip, the ball happened to move off in a downward direction when it slipped free from the astronaut's grasp, but seconds earlier in the live stream, the inflated ball floated freely in front of the astronauts without falling

The video clip reel was posted on Instagram by @rob1nsky on July 25, 2023. It was captioned:

I just have a few questions... 🧐 #how #why #nasa

In the comments @rob1nsky elaborated further that he believed some publicly released videos are staged:

I am not in any way insinuating that the ISS is fake or that there's no astronauts up there 😂 my questions are: 1. Why are you clearly staging some (not all) of your publicly released videos? 2. Once all the dust from the recent disclosure stuff settles, is nasa going to release their data? That's all. 🤦🏻‍♂️

This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:
(Image source: Instagram.com screenshot taken on Mon Aug 07 16:25:03 2023 UTC)

This Instagram video contains clips from two videos. This fact check will focus only on the Earth Day live stream.

Microgravity on the International Space Station

Is there gravity on the International Space Station? Yes and no. In a NASA PDF slideshow titled, "Microgravity Science on the ISS A primer for new researchers," it is explained that the force of gravity in low Earth orbit is 89 percent of the force at sea level. The ISS and everything on board is pulled by the force of Earth's gravity, but it is also in a state of freefall and the centripetal force of the orbit of the ISS cancels out the feeling of gravity. In an article on brilliant.org titled, "Is there gravity in the Space Station?" a falling elevator analogy is offered:

The same phenomenon is seen in a freely falling elevator. Suppose a person is standing in an elevator in freefall, when they hold out their phone and release it. In the frame of the Earth, the person and the phone fall freely under gravity. However, from the perspective of the person in the elevator, the phone stays at the same height, appearing to float.

Earth Day live stream from ISS

The clip used in the Instagram post came from a video streamed live from the International Space Station on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. It is titled, "Earth Day Q&A with Astronauts in Space | Hosted by Shawn Mendes." At 01:24 minutes in, the astronauts introduced themselves and as they did, they lightly passed or tossed the microphone to the next person. The microphone glided in the air as if weightless.

At 15:36 minutes in, a child on Earth asked the astronauts through the live feed, "Why does Earth have so many clouds?" Commander Victor Glover volunteered to take the question. Soichi Noguchi produced a small inflatable globe for a visual aid (at 16:12 minutes in). The globe was placed in the air in front of Shannon Walker (pictured below) and remained spinning in the same general position in front of her. It was repositioned several times with light taps from the crew. When Glover finished speaking (at 16:23) he released the microphone and it rotated slowly in the air in front of him.


(Image source: YouTube screenshot taken on Mon Aug 07 17:31:03 2023 UTC)

Minutes later (at 18:14) Space Force Colonel Mike Hopkins took a question: Whether hurricanes could be seen from space. He was already holding the globe under his left forearm when the microphone was passed, slowly floating, to him. The globe, which was held mostly with friction from Hopkins' forearm (pictured below) slips from that grip (at 18:34) and is effectively pushed downward. The direction the globe moves is not caused by the force of gravity but because it was pushed downward.


(Image source: YouTube.com screenshot @18:34 taken on Mon Aug 07 17:31:03 2023 UTC)

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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