China To Launch Man-Made Moon To Replace Street Lights

Cai Yang  Xinhua via APChina Planning Probes Manned Missions Ultimately a Base on Moon- Space Chief

Cai Yang Xinhua via APChina Planning Probes Manned Missions Ultimately a Base on Moon- Space Chief

The idea was launched at a press conference earlier this month by Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute.

Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, has proposed a plan to launch an artificial moon, or illumination satellite, into space, Asia Times is reporting.

The satellite will reportedly be eight times brighter than the real moon and could replace street lights.

For now, details on the proposed moon-including further satellite specifications, cost and launch date-remain scarce. The brightness of the artificial moon would be bright enough to replace streetlights, another state-run media outlet, Xinhua, quoted Wu as saying. Wu said that his company has been working on developing and building an "artificial moon" for years and that the technology is now finally mature enough to shoot for a 2020 launch.

Mr Wu made the announcement at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship activity held in Chengdu on October 10.

With an ultra-bright full moon each and every night, the city would then be in for serious savings on their monthly electric bills, or at least that appears to be the rationale for the ambitious project. Russian scientists tried it in 1993; a second go in 1999 prompted "preemptive concerns about light pollution disrupting nocturnal animals and astronomical observation", The Guardian reports.

In addition to Tian Fu New Area Science Society, other universities and institutes, including the Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, are involved in developing Chengdu's illumination satellites.

Officials in the city hope the artificial moon will bring in more tourists once it is in the sky. The real moon, of course, can usually be seen from anywhere on Earth.

In 1999, a Russian experiment to deploy a large mirror in space created to function like an artificial moon was unsuccessful after it failed to unfold properly. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.

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