In a bid to replace streetlamps and reduce electricity costs in urban areas of the country, China is planning to launch its own ‘artificial moon’ by 2020, according to China Daily. ‘Illumination satellites’ are being developed in Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan province, which will be placed one in front of the other. The satellites will shine from the light of the real Moon but will be eight times brighter.
“The first man-made moon will launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, with three more to follow in 2022 if the first test goes well. Though the first launch will be experimental, the 2022 satellites will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential,” said Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society — the organisation responsible for the project.
The project was announced by Wu at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu on October 10.
The man-made moons could replace streetlamps in urban areas, which would save an estimated 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million) a year in electricity costs for Chengdu, if the man-made moons illuminate an area of 50 square kilometres. The light can also be helpful in disaster zones during blackouts.
Besides Tian Fu New Area Science Society, Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp are also involved in developing the man-made moons.
China is not the first country which is trying to make artificial lights with the help of Sunlight. In the 1990s, Russian scientists reportedly used giant mirrors to reflect light from space in an experimental project called Znamya or Banner.