Fact Check video shows a space shuttle rocket booster test, not a NASA weather machine

Social media users are sharing a Top Gear video of a space shuttle rocket booster test and claiming it shows a NASA machine that can manipulate the weather. The test does produce a water vapor cloud, but its purpose is to test space shuttle rocket boosters, not to manipulate the weather by creating clouds.

Examples can be seen (here) and (here).

One post read: “Climate change and global warming are all fake. Geo-engineering and weather modifications are the government’s bread and butter.”

Comments on the posts include: “Weaponisation of the weather”, “Exactly what cancerous chemicals were they pumping into the atmosphere?”, “Their way to convince us that climate change is real,” and “We should not interfere with our planet, whether its cloud-making machines or chemtrails.”

The video seen in the posts shows a Top Gear episode visible (here) published on the show’s YouTube page on Oct. 29, 2010. The description of the video reads: “Jeremy Clarkson heads to Mississippi where NASA test their Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters. Consuming half a million gallons of fuel, they generate the thrust needed to propel astronauts into space. They’re a tad noisy too!”

In the video, Clarkson says the shuttle tests take place in the wetlands of Mississippi.

At the 1:52 mark (here), Clarkson says: “Don’t worry if you can’t hear what I’m saying, I couldn’t even hear myself. This is the loudest sound you could possibly conceive and as it turns out, the cleanest. Now, the most amazing thing is that that cloud up there which was generated by the engine is just a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. It’s water vapor and in about an hour’s time someone in Mississippi is going to get wet washing. It will actually rain. I told you. It’s raining. That’s unbelievable. NASA is playing God. It’s making its own weather.”

The shuttle test does produce a cloud of water vapor that causes rain. But the purpose of the site is to test space shuttle rocket boosters, not to manipulate the weather.

Calvin Lacy Thompson, news chief at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center (here), told Reuters via email that RS-25 engines tested at the Stennis Space Center use liquid oxygen and hydrogen, the same elements that create water (H2O), as propellants.

“For an RS-25 engine test, liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen are mixed in the engine combustion chamber and ignited, which results in extremely high-temperature exhaust (up to 6000 degrees F) exiting the engine nozzle into the test stand flame deflector at a very high rate and pressure,” Thompson said. “Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water also are spraying into the flame deflector to cool the exhaust and protect the deflector.”

“When the hot exhaust mixes with the water, it creates steam that exits the flame deflector and rises into the atmosphere, forming a cloud that subsequently cools,” Thompson said. “Depending on the temperature and humidity at the time of the test, this cloud of steam may condense into water and fall in a very limited and localized area.”

“The steam released during a test is water and does not pollute the atmosphere,” Thompson added.

Reuters has previously debunked the claim that climate change is a hoax (here), (here), (here).


partially false. While the space shuttle rocket booster test can produce a cloud that causes rain, its purpose is to propel rockets into space, not to control the weather.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking workhere.


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