China's Crazy Plan to Launch an Artificial Moon

As reported in China Daily, scientists plan to launch an “illumination satellite” into orbit above the city of Chengdu. Well actually, four illumination satellites. The first as a proof of concept in 2020 and the next three as the real deal in 2022.

There aren’t a ton of details about the satellites themselves yet, like how big they are or what they will be made of, but we know they’ll be covered with a “reflective coating similar to the moon’s.” At the proposed distance of 500km, a single satellite is expected to illuminate an area between 10 and 80 km, with light around 8 times brighter than the moon’s.

If all goes to plan, the scientists hope the moons will replace street lights in urban areas and save the city millions in electricity costs annually. They could also help light up streets during natural disasters and blackouts.

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