Chinese city wants to launch artificial moon to 'replace streetlights'

Sir Richard Branson

The reflected sun light can cover an area of 3,600 sq km to 6,400 sq km, and the illumination intensity is expected to be eight times of the moon light, he said.

The idea is the brainchild of Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute.

Officials in Chengdu, a city of 14 million people in China's southwestern province of Sichuan, announced plans to place a satellite in orbit by 2020 capable of reflecting sunlight onto its streets at night, claiming it will be bright enough to entirely replace street lights. The fake moon will supposedly be able to light up an area up to about 50 miles in diameter, and also be remotely controllable for light precision. 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. However, an expert told the People's Daily that the artificial moon's light shouldn't be so bright that it would impact them.

Though the human-made moon will light up only Chengdu, the glowing ball will be visible across China and even overseas, Asia Times reported.

A French artist once envisioned a cosmic version of Versailles' famed Hall of Mirrors, reportedly proposing the creation of an artificial moon powered by a necklace of mirrors that would reflect light back onto the streets of Paris.

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The project has sparked concern from the public, as many began to worry that the lights reflected from space could affect the daily routines of certain animals.

The moon will orbit the city at a height of 500 kilometers, and will be one of three artificial moons sent into space over the next four years.

This is not the first reflective satellite that has been planned. The scheme used a device known as the Znamya 2, which was equipped with a 25-meter mirror to illuminate a three-mile radius of land.

Another Russian attempt to launch a space mirror in 1999 fizzled before it got off the ground, according to The Guardian.

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