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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 9, 2022

No, this isn’t a video of a NASA astronaut pretending to be in space

If Your Time is short

  • This isn’t a video of retired NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg. It was created by the host of a Flat Earth podcast. 

Karen Nyberg has served on two spaceflights, spending a cumulative 180 days in space. But recent videos on Instagram cast doubt on the NASA astronaut’s accomplished career, suggesting that she was never in space — just in a studio. 

"This was supposedly a video from space," read the caption of one Instagram post that shared the video. "As you can see, there is a little bit of green screen theatrics in the back." 

The video shows two frames of a woman sitting on an exercise ball. In the frame on the left, a green screen is visible and the woman hands items, including a bag of corn chips, to someone in a green suit. 

In the second panel, the woman appears to be sitting in space and the items appear to move on their own, floating weightlessly into the air. 

"Astronaut Karen Nyberg @ the International Space Station," text flanking the video says. 

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Neither NASA nor Nyberg’s representatives responded to PolitiFact’s queries about the post. But Teyit, a Turkish fact-checking organization, reported that Nyberg told the outlet she was not involved in the video and isn’t the woman in it.

Although the woman in the Instagram video and Nyberg share physical similarities, we watched footage of the astronaut speaking and her voice doesn’t match the voice of the woman in the post. Also, someone off camera in the Instagram video calls the woman "Paige," not Karen. 

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That’s because the woman in the video is Paige Windle, not Nyberg, and she created it with David Weiss, who hosts the podcast "The Flat Earth Podcast" and believes the earth is flat. A 2020 Wired story described Windle as Weiss’ partner. 

"Paige and I were doing a silly demonstration on the show Globebusters showing how green screens work," Weiss told us in an email. "If you listen to the dialogue, you can hear that we are not pretending to be anyone other than ourselves. Someone on one of the video platforms took the clip and claimed it was Karen Nyberg and lots of channels mirrored it."

Weiss sent us the original green screen video that was posted in his YouTube channel about a year ago. It was also posted on his TikTok account Aug. 4 correcting people who claimed Windle was Nyberg. 

"Karen Nyberg is a space faking fraud but this is not her so stop saying it is," the post says. 

In an Aug. 23 TikTok post sharing the same video from Instagram, text appears over the clip reading "NOT Karen Nyberg."  

"Anyone who can Google knows this was a mock up video for kids," one person wrote in the post’s comments. Weiss replied: "Actually it was a mock up video making fun of NASA for adults."

We rate claims that this video shows Nyberg pretending to be in space False.

RELATED: NASA photos of the moon and Earth show that "space is fake."


Our Sources

Instagram post, Sept. 6, 2022

NASA, Karen L. Nyberg (PH.D.) NASA Astronaut, visited Sept. 9, 2022

Teyit, Videonun uzayda yapılan yeşil ekranlı çekimi gösterdiği iddiası, visited Sept. 8, 2022

Karen Nyberg’s website, visited Sept. 8, 2022

The Flat Earth Podcast website, visited Sept. 8, 2022

CNN, The flat-Earth conspiracy is spreading around the globe. Does it hide a darker core?, Nov. 18, 2019

DITRH TikTok account, visited Sept. 8, 2022

Wired, How do you find love when you believe the Earth is flat?, Sept. 8, 2020

YouTube, Space may be the final frontier but its made in Daves attic - Flat Earth, visited Sept. 9, 2022

YouTube, NASA EXPOSED. - Flat Earth, visited Sept. 9, 2022

YouTube, FLAT EATHER goes to the IFS, visited Sept. 9, 2022

Email interview with David Weiss, Sept. 9, 2022


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