Fact Check-SpaceX test flight launched featured dummy, not human

Social media posts have claimed that private space company SpaceX faked a flight, sharing a photo showing what appears to be a man sitting on the ledge of a launching space craft as proof. The image is authentic and shows a 2012 SpaceX test flight, but the figure is a 6-foot dummy, not a human.

The claim was shared on Twitter, with a caption that reads: “Remember that time FakeX forgot to Photoshop out the guy sitting on their grain silo that they try and pass off as a "space ship".” (here)

Similar posts were also shared on Instagram (here) and (here).

The image shows the company’s Grasshopper craft launching in December 2012. However, the figure on the outside is a mannequin, placed to provide scale, and not a person.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted a series of tweets at the time. “To provide a little perspective on the size of Grasshopper, we added a 6 ft cowboy to the rocket,” he said (here). “Cowboy riding the rocket no problemo,” he added, showing a picture of the dummy aboard the test craft (here).

The company also shared videos of the test flight on YouTube, showing the craft taking off vertically and rising 131 feet before landing again (here).


False. SpaceX did not fake a flight. Images shared on social media show a SpaceX spacecraft carrying a six-foot mannequin, used for scale, on a test flight in 2012.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .