NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press mistakenly ran a year-old photograph that had been taken during a NASA test mission to depict Sunday’s splashdown of two astronauts returning from the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX capsule.
The news service on Monday deleted the photo from its system and ran a “kill advisory,” telling customers about the error and urging them not to use it in the future.
J. David Ake, the AP’s director of photography, said he was alerted to the mistake on Monday by a NASA photographer who had seen the incorrect photo being used by newspapers.
No news organization was able to photograph the splashdown, which happened in the Gulf of Mexico, 40 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
Instead, the AP relied on photos taken by NASA photographers, along with “screen grabs” from NASA video to make still photos, Ake said.
At one point, a photo editor saw on NASA’s website a distant image of a capsule landing in blue waters, with four parachutes billowing above, and sent it to the wire. But it was not Sunday’s splashdown; it had been taken in March 2019 during a test run.
AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton said in a statement that the photo was mistaken for a current image by the editor, and it was published.
“The AP regrets the error,” Easton said.