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Did China Launch an ‘Artificial Sun’ Into Space?
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Did China Launch an ‘Artificial Sun’ Into Space?


The last few days have seen a rise in viral social media posts claiming to show the Chinese government launching an “artificial sun.”

This is not the first time this claim has gone viral; in September 2021, a video from YouTube account “Proven Facts” shared a video showing another supposed launch.

China does have a nuclear reactor called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) that has been referred to as China’s “artificial sun” because it is able to simulate the fusion reactions occurring within stars and reach incredibly high temperatures. Last week, the reactor made headlines after state media reported it performed a record-setting 17-minute fusion reaction. However, what is depicted in the viral videos is not China’s artificial sun. The reactor—which can be seen in this picture from the Smithsonian Magazine—is a machine inside a laboratory, not an actual sunlike object shot into the sky. 

The viral videos appear to show the launch of satellites or rockets, with the latest video showing the December 23, 2021, launch of a Chinese satellite. Another video taken from a different vantage point shows people watching from the beach, and smoke and rocket look identical to the “artificial sun” launch in the viral video. 

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Alec Dent is a former culture editor and staff writer for The Dispatch.