China To Launch Man-Made Moon To Replace Street Lights

Hand holding up light-up moon

Video A Chinese businessman has announced plans to light Chengdu at night by launching an artificial "moon" to direct the out-of-sight Sun's rays down onto the city's streets.

The likelihood that the moon will ever rise in the skies above Chengdu has already been dismissed by some skeptics - but the Chinese are not the first to come up with the ambitious idea.

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

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

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.

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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.

Most famously, the Russians wanted to use a satellite to deflect sunlight back to Earth, to illuminate night times in part of the vast country. "Several" proved an overstatement, but the design was shown to be sound.

But Znamya 2.5 misfired on launch and its creators failed to raise funding for another attempt.

State media reports were quick to dispel any potential worries about what sort of damage the project could do to the environment, quoting an expert as explaining that the light of the satellite would be "similar to a dusk-like glow" and so should not throw off animals' routines.

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