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China plans to launch artificial moon to replace streetlights

The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu intends to launch a fake moon into space that researchers expect would orbit about 500 kilometres above the earth.  This bold move could save more than $200 million a year in electricity costs. City officials recently announced plans to build an artificial moon, launching it by 2020.

The illuminated ball is intended to complement the light of Earth’s existing moon and will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite. In fact, light from the artificial moon is expected to save the city money by doing away with the need for streetlights, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of a scientific research institute said. The new moon will be capable of illuminating an area of up to 50 miles in diameter.

Though the human-made moon will light up only Chengdu, the glowing ball will be visible across China and even overseas. This isn’t the first time that a country has tried to outshine the moon. A similar project was unveiled by Russia in the 1990s, with the launch of a solar reflecting system — a “space mirror”. During its first orbit, the craft was destroyed following a collision in space. The scheme was abandoned.

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