Fake 'moon' using huge space mirror could be launched over China by 2020

An illumination satellite also known as the "artificial moon" is set to be launched into the sky above the Southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.

Source: 1 NEWS

The fake lunar orb is designed to complement Earth's true moon at night using a huge space mirror. The satellite will be able to light an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometres, while the precise illumination range can be controlled within a few dozen meters.

With a brightness eight times that of the real moon, it could replace the need for streetlights said Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Earth’s moon orbits the planet about 380,000 km from the surface, while the man-made moon is expected to be put on an orbit within 500 km from the Earth, the state-run China Daily reported.

Concerns that the false nighttime light would interfere with the normal day-night cycle of animals and plants were put to rest by Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology. The light would be a dusk-like glow that would not impact on animals normal activities, he explained.

It's not the first attempt to add man-man illumination to the sky. A French artist originally imagined a necklace of mirrors hanging above the earth, after being inspired by Versailles’ famed Hall of Mirrors.

Russia's experimental orbital mirror "Banner" was deployed from the Mir space station in 1999. It failed to deploy correctly and burned up on atmospheric re-entry.

Mr Chunfeng explained that the technology behind the Chinese satellite has been in the testing phase for years but is finally near completion. He said the project could be brightening the streets of Chendgu by 2020.