Home Archive High Altitude Shuttle Launch Photographs

High Altitude Shuttle Launch Photographs

by Brett M. Christensen

Message claims that attached photographs of a space shuttle launch were taken from the International Space Station

Genuine photographs – Description is inaccurate

Photos of recent Shuttle launch as seen from the International Space Station
Spaceshuttle launch

Detailed Analysis:
These spectacular photographs are circulating rapidly via email, blog and forum posts. The date stamp on the photographs suggests that they depict the September 2006 launch of the shuttle Atlantis (NASA Mission STS-115).

While the photographs are genuine, the claim that they were taken from the International Space Station is untrue. They depict an altitude far too low for photographs taken from the ISS. The large expanse of the earth’s surface and the slight curvature of the horizon strongly suggest that the photographs were not taken from an orbiting space station. The following photograph, which was taken from the ISS, clearly shows a significantly higher viewpoint.

In fact, the photographs were almost certainly taken from a WB-57 chase jet. These high altitude jets are able to keep pace with the shuttle high into the earth’s atmosphere and capture detailed images of the shuttle as it climbs towards orbit. The planes can climb to over 60,000 feet.

A thread on the Nasaspaceflight.com forums discusses the images in depth and expert commentators concur that they were indeed taken by crew aboard a WB-57 aircraft.

In spite of the inaccuracy in the description, these shots are truly awesome.

Last updated: 8th November 2006
First published: 8th November 2006
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

Mission News STS-115
NASA Imaging Team Develops ‘Eye in the Sky’ for Shuttle Chase Planes
Nasaspaceflight.com forums

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,