Elon Musk's company SpaceX successfully launched their first Falcon Heavy rocket this week, after a recent successful launch in New Zealand by RocketLab. It's been a good time for private space companies.
Elon Musk managed some inspired advertising by launching his Tesla electric car into space. The car was fitted with several cameras, and some good video was sent back including some shots where it was clear the earth is round!
The images and video appear to be a great thing for us proponents of a round earth. Unfortunately, there was a small mistake that I think the flat earthers will pounce on.
The Falcon Heavy is three of SpaceX's Falcon 9 boosters strapped together. There are two side boosters that disengage first, and it was beautiful to see them return to earth and land in a controlled fashion - something that SpaceX do to allow refurbishment of their hardware.
If the official video stream, as the two side boosters are returning to earth, the video feed included two side by side camera views from the two boosters. The presenters of the stream said that the booster videos looked very similar, because they were close to each other, but they were different.
Except, as I watched them, I noticed that the videos seemed to be identical. I noticed that each correctional thrust for the boosters was happening at exactly the same time. Shadows and light effects were also identical, and the only difference between the videos was timing and cropping.
A day later, when SpaceX posted a new video of the launch to YouTube, the issue was fixed and the two videos were from the two boosters. Presumably there was a communications issue with the second booster, or just a human error when running the live video feed.
My worry is that this slip up will be taken as reason enough by flat earthers to dismiss the launch as a fake, although I suppose for most people who believe in a flat earth they already believe that there's a massive conspiracy and governments are lying to them, so they'd probably ignore this data no matter the circumstances.
The Flat Earth Society has so far publicly said:
"people who believe that the Earth is a globe because 'they saw a car in space on the Internet' must be the new incarnation of 'It's true, I saw it on TV!' It's a poor argument." a