Fact check: Purported photo of NASA shuttle launch is image created by 3D animator

The claim: Image shows NASA's Atlantis shuttle launching into space

An image shared on Facebook appears to show a shuttle launching into space.

"Meet NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis making its way into Space," reads the Aug. 10 post's caption. "Space Vehicles like Atlantis have proven how Technologically advanced we have become to travel out of our home planet and reach the weightless environment of space." The post credits NASA for the picture.

The post has been liked over 1,000 times. Other viral iterations have been shared on Facebook.

But it is not a real photo captured by NASA. It's a stock image created by a 3D animator who specializes in space and science concepts.

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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.

Image is stock photo created by 3D animator

NASA's Atlantis shuttle first launched into Earth's orbit on Oct. 3, 1985, according to NASA's website. It left the Kennedy Space Station in Florida for its final mission on July 8, 2011. The shuttle is now on display at the Kennedy Space Center.

Though the Facebook image shows a shuttle resembling Atlantis, it's a rotated version of a stock photo that can be found on websites such as Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. The image is titled "Space Shuttle Flying Over The Clouds. 3D Scene." According to iStockPhoto, it was created on May 4, 2015, four years after Atlantis had its final mission.

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The creator, "3Dsculptor," has profiles on both websites displaying other space photos and animated sculptures. The description listed on their Shutterstock profile says, "3D Animator. 3D Designer. 3D Modeller. Science And Space And Of Course Concepts."

The image is featured on the creator's website as well which describes the artist's work as "Stock images, animations, and 3D models for your creative projects."

In an email to USA TODAY, the creator explained that his name is Konstantin McClane and he is located in Spain. McClane confirmed he created the image in the Facebook post.

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"I am a freelance artist and I sell my 3D images and 3D animations on many photo stocks such as Shutterstock, Adobestock, Istock and others," McClane said. "Specifically, this image is a composition of the background of clouds, which I made from the porthole of an airplane and my 3d model of the Space Shuttle, which I made a long time ago just from photos from the Internet... And further. I never use other people's images (NASA or others). All backgrounds, clouds and planets. These are either my photos or 3d renders."

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that an image shows Atlantis launching into space. The picture is a stock image created by a 3D animator who specializes in space and science concepts.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Purported photo of NASA shuttle is image by 3D animator