Boris Johnson appears to have been photoshopped out of a snap shared by Grant Shapps. The Business Secretary took to Twitter ahead of this morning’s rocket launch from Spaceport Cornwall to post a picture of a 2021 visit to LauncherOne.
In a now-deleted tweet, he said: “The UK Govt is delighted to be backing the first ever satellite launch from European soil.”
But eagle-eyed social media users were quick to point out that Mr Johnson, who went on the trip with Mr Shapps, had disappeared from the accompanying photo.
The original image with Mr Shapps and Mr Johnson is on the Number 10 Flickr account, dated June 9 2021.
The pair are stood side by side with the then-Tory leader wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words: “Prime Minister.”
The bizarre incident comes after today’s attempt to make British space history by launching a rocket into orbit from UK soil ended in failure after suffering an “anomaly” during the flight.
After taking off from Cornwall, the Virgin Orbit plane flew to 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean where it jettisoned the rocket containing nine small satellites towards space.
Organisers of the Start Me Up mission said the rocket – with a variety of civil and defence applications – failed to orbit.
After the launch failed, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “Space is difficult. Everyone’s used to seeing rockets which explode from Japan, what have you.
“The great thing about this technology is that no-one was harmed. The pilots came back in the aircraft.
“It didn’t work. I’ve no doubt that they’ll pick themselves up, dust themselves off and they’ll go again once they find out what exactly went wrong with it.”
Mr Shapps did not know the time schedule for another possible attempt.
He added: “It was a big moment nonetheless.”