Chengdu plans to launch ‘artificial moon’ into space to save on electricity

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

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.

A Chinese city, Chengdu, has perfected plans to replace the city's streetlights with an "artificial moon" by 2020.

It is not clear whether the plan has the backing of the city of Chengdu or the Chinese government, though Casc is the main contractor for the Chinese space programme.

Wu Chunfeng, head of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, unveiled the singular plan at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event held last week.

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

Controls on the satellite will allow light levels to be configured and controlled, Wu told a conference of entrepreneurs, and the final object would be able to reflect light on a 10 to 80 mile area, well within the city's area.

Officials have released few details on the project, but say the idea pulls inspiration from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth.

However, Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, said the light would be similar to dusk and that it shouldn't upset animal routines. Still, the underlying concept embraced by the experiment - which The New York Times described at the time as a test of "the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons" - remains an enticing prospect.

Some expressed concerns about light pollution and potentially negative impact on animals. The Telegraph's Joseph Archer reports that Russian scientists launched a mirror-equipped spacecraft created to brighten Siberia's sun-deprived streets back in 1999.

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